MEDIA WATCH: New Orleans charter school 'cages' discipline problems, Times Picayune reports

On March 16, 2011, the newspaper The Times Picayune (New Orleans) reported that a New Orleans charter school was "caging" students who were discipline problems. The background to the story is that after Hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration, with the help of many Democrats, used the crisis to destroy the United Teachers of New Orleans, at the time the largest and most powerful African American trade union in Louisiana, and push through a corporate "school reform" plan that created the largest number of charter schools, per capita, of any major American city. Former Chicago Schools "Chief Executive Officer" Paul Vallas was hired to run the New Orleans schools, and Chicago charter operators, including UNO, were hired as consultants to tell Louisiana how to do it. In addition to union busting, the Vallas reforms also created a segregated two-tiered school system for the city.

Over the years since, despite the relentless propaganda supporting the New Orleans "reforms" (and an equal media commitment to ignoring the racist attack on the unions that Vallas oversaw), reports about the major problems with public education in New Orleans seeped out.

The following is just the latest of those:


Latreshia Davis acknowledges that her son, 14-year-old Eugene Allen, has had disciplinary problems in school over the years. She's had to leave the workforce to put his education first and make sure he's on track.

But she was startled by the call she got from Eugene on Tuesday.

Davis says the eighth-grader phoned her during lunch at McDonogh City Park Academy to say he was he serving detention in a cage; there were several other students, it was hot and the teacher supervising them was in and out of the room.

Mike Bagot, board president at the New Orleans Charter Schools Foundation, which runs McDonogh, disputes the idea that anyone was being kept in a cage. He said the room has a mesh fence because it used to be an equipment locker, but it can't be locked anymore. And he said that the 11 students housed there for detention were only kept for seven minutes, and they were supervised the entire time.

Davis, 38, was troubled by the incident nonetheless.

"I send my child to school for an education and I'm a very involved parent," Davis said. "He's not perfect -- I never said he was. But everyone at that school knows they can call me at any time and I'll be there."

Davis added, "When you get to the point of locking someone up in a cage for even one minute, it's too much. What is that putting in the minds of the kids? That they're animals? That they're not worth anything?"


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