Anika Watson and her son Kaleb and daughter Kaliyah outside McDonogh City Park Academy where the children attend school on Thursday, March 14, 2013. Watson learned days after the start of the school year that her kids' new school was an F. The district offered her children a list of schools to which they could transfer, but even those options were lackluster. (Eliot Kamenitz/The Advocate) (RJ Sangosti)
A day after her children entered the halls of their fifth public school in five years, New Orleans artist and parent Anika Watson received two letters detailing something that came as no surprise: two of her children had just begun a new school year in one of the city's 32 failing public schools.
The state-run Recovery School District informed Watson that children attending McDonogh City Park Academy, an F-rated school, were eligible to transfer to a higher-performing school.
That's a requirement of the federal No Child Left Behind Public School Choice program: local school districts must allow students in academically unacceptable schools to transfer to higher performing, non-failing schools in the district — if there's
(Eliot Kamenitz/The Advocate) (RJ Sangosti)
And though New Orleans has been hailed nationally as a model of choice-based educational reform, Watson's experience exposes a key failure in Louisiana's attempts to turn bad schools into good ones: In a city where parental options abound, how many of the choices are reputable ones?
In the Recovery School District, it seems, not enough.