Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The WTFingnest WTF? in months

Standing in the meeting room Thursday night, with the Algiers Charter Schools Association board of trustees poised to remove Brian Riedlinger as the chief executive officer, Delery, a parent and ACSA employee, couldn't believe what he was witnessing.
Board member Charles Rice, who appeared to lead the initiative to get rid of Riedlinger, kept his comments to a minimum at Thursday's meeting. But Friday, he referenced a "serious lack of communication" between Riedlinger and the board that necessitated a change in leadership.

"It is my belief that Mr. Riedlinger did not understand, nor did he truly comprehend, the financial situation of the system," Rice said. "I don't think he truly understood the operational aspects or what it takes to operate the system."

I'll admit it, I haven't paid much attention to the controversies involving the School Board, the Recovery School District and the various charter schools. It's partly that I don't have kids and probably never will, but it's mainly either that I've been too cynical, or not cynical enough.

If anybody was paying attention, one of the few things that I said at the first Rising Tide conference was that the great hopes for public education in post-Katrina New Orleans struck me as naive. Though there may be individual schools that do good jobs in poor neighborhoods scattered around the country, I don't think there's a single poor school district or city in the country that does a good job district-wide or city-wide. To expect a city that's been as damaged as New Orleans to show the rest of the country how to do it seems absurd. Sorry, if that seems cynical, but I don't believe in miracles.

In retrospect, I should have been more cynical. If you take a historically corrupt school system and throw in the opportunities created by "school choice," you'll probably bake a pretty tempting pie. So, I should have started paying attention much sooner and had my first "WTF" moment in November:
The Algiers Charter Schools Association welcomed not one, but two new trustees Tuesday night, after amending its bylaws to allow up to nine members on the board.

Charles Rice, a lawyer and former chief administrative officer for Mayor Ray Nagin's administration, will join the board, effective immediately. He replaces Calvin Turner Jr., who stepped down in August, citing personal and professional obligations.

WTF? Isn't the appeal of the charter schools supposed to be based on the premise that they're run by honest educators rather than the corrupt politicians that one finds on school boards?. So the people that run the ACSA name Charles Rice to the board of trustees, and, within a few months, he starts trying to get rid of the CEO. However, the first effort to get rid of the CEO failed. Not to be deterred, Rice comes up with another rationale, and, this time, it works.

How WTF can you get?

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