Monday, may 22's showing of The Experiment couldn't have gone better: the film is amazing (see the trailer at www.theexperimentfilm.com; I've arranged a special deal with the producer/director, Ben Lemoine, to make the DVD available to any of my readers for only $10 – just contact my assistant Leila at Leilajt2@gmail.com) and the panel knocked the cover off the ball. Among the most interesting comments (from my recollection):
· John White noting that when New Orleans parents ranked their school preferences, their choices, collectively, EXACTLY mirrored the data on which schools are evaluated, so don't let anyone tell you that poor parents can't figure out which are the best schools.
· Richard Barth's three sobering assessments: 1) The students at the KIPP schools in New Orleans are making gains comparable to the best KIPPs in the country, yet after four years the New Orleans kids are still well behind the NYC KIPPsters because they start so far behind – so we should not declare victory yet; 2) The life challenges faced by New Orleans kids in general are little short of catastrophic – as challenging as any city in which KIPP has ever opened schools, yet New Orleans, as a city, has almost NO resources to support these kids (message – we need great people to go to New Orleans to provide all kinds of non-school-related services); and 3) the idea that lots of other cities can quickly shift to a relinquisher/all-charter model in the way New Orleans has – and get the results that New Orleans has been able to produce so quickly – is a pipe dream unless they have already made similar human capital investments. New Orleans has benefitted from a HUGE influx of human capital/talent thanks to TFA, KIPP, New Leaders for New Schools, New Schools for New Orleans, etc. that most other cities can only dream about. The principles of the relinquisher model make absolute sense – but we need to encourage folks not to get disillusioned if this is a much longer term effort in cities that have not yet built up their human capital.
· Neerav Kingsland pointed out that Newark is ideally suited to adopt the relinquisher model given that it has two of the top charter networks in the country already there in size, KIPP and Uncommon.
(Forgive me for not having better notes – if you were there and have additional recollections you think are worth sharing, please email me.)
Here are four photos: