Letter: Vallas: New Orleans’ 2nd Big Disaster

October 2, 2007

Dear Substance,

Poor, dear New Orleans. They are suffering through the aftermath of two disasters — Katrina and, now, Paul Vallas. In the September 4th issue of the Christian Science Monitor (a newspaper continually lauded for excellent reporting and printing the truth - and with a world-wide readership), Paul Vallas’ regime has been critiqued now that he is New Orleans’ new school superintendent.

Having left Philadelphia under the cloud of contributing, much, to the $100 million plus deficit within the public school system (amongst other travesties), Vallas was hired as the new school superintendent for New Orleans. He promptly “pink slipped” all of the experienced, mature African American (New Orleans) teachers just at the time when important strides were being made of reestablish the teacher union. This was no coincidence. The dismissed teachers remain bitter concerning the way they were treated by, as perceived, a white, elitist, central administration. Remember his minions follow him from city to city to city.

This is the same administration we had to deal with when Vallas was in Chicago. Thanks to the Chicago media, a totally inexperienced (in education) the entire nation was led to believe Vallas could walk on water and could no wrong. He, seemingly, is willing to do whatever is necessary to gain total control of any school system - in order to wreck it, the careers of experienced teachers, force early retirements, and weaken or dismantle any, and all, teacher unions.

As for New Orleans Vallas brought in all young, white teachers, and established, as a vast majority, charter schools. All of this was to improve test scores, and so on, because the mature, experienced African American teachers removed by Vallas could not - because of their supposed ineptness. As always - blame the teachers.

And now? Things are not going well. Societal influences, discipline problems, and so on, are surfacing. Whereas the previous, experienced teachers familiar with these students, their families and their neighborhoods could deal with and understand these problems. The new, inexperienced, white teachers and administration (who never lived in New Orleans until hired) are unable to be effective. The Monitor article states Vallas likes to hear of new and/or innovative ideas, but will not stand for any criticism. No surprise there. Until Mayor Daley brought Vallas “in” he had had absolutely no educational experience. It does not seem much has changed - nor ever will.

All I can say is thank God Vallas was not able to return to Chicago as many of us feared and as our misguided media suggested (and hoped for). Our gain is New Orleans loss. And who really loses? Why the students, of course!


Sharonjoy A. Jackson, Chicago