His challenge: Rebuild New Orleans’ schools: USA Today

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know I’m a quiet fan of Paul Vallas. He’s the “clean-up guy” who cleaned up Chicago Public Schools not long ago. He also led the effort to reform Philadelphia’s troubled city school system. Now he has a new task: to lead the effort to reform post-Hurricane Katrina’s New Orleans city public schools.

His task won’t be a cake-walk. See this story from the USA Today.

An excerpt:

In Philadelphia, Vallas oversees about 200,000 students, the size of the entire current-day population of New Orleans. As head of the Recovery district, Vallas will oversee about 40 schools and 27,000 students. The number of students is expected to grow to about 40,000 next year. “This is creating a school system from the ground up,” Vallas said Friday. “No one has ever had quite that opportunity.”

Before landing in Philadelphia, Vallas, 53, spent six years in Chicago, where he gained a reputation as a gruff, fast-talking but open-minded “cleanup guy” who helped modernize the district and erase a projected $1.3 billion deficit ā€” but who also clashed with teachers unions, says Alexander Russo, editor of the 2004 book School Reform in Chicago. Vallas can be “a little bit of a bully,” but he gets things done, Russo says.

Citing poor performance in Philadelphia’s elementary and middle schools, Vallas replaced their math and language arts textbooks in 2004 and hired the test-prep company Kaplan to write a standardized core curriculum. He also created thousands of slots for city preschool and full-day kindergarten classes.

In the past three years, he has dismissed 750 teachers who didn’t meet minimum standards dictated by the federal No Child Left Behind law, and he took advantage of federal incentives to open privately run but publicly financed charter schools. He also leaves Philadelphia with a $73 million budget shortfall and thousands of students still struggling to read and do math proficiently.

E.C. šŸ™‚


One Response

  1. If you really knew anything Paul Vallas, outside of what you read (and, unfortunately believe), you’d hardly be a fan of his, quiet or otherwise. Paul puts up a good front, but does little to deliver the goods. He NEVER fired 750 teachers in Philly. Vallas couldn’t even keep enough teachers and had to resort of hiring back previously fired teachers. He did eliminate the Literacy Interns program after two of the three years because only 32% of the wouldbe teachers wanted to stick around once they got to see what the schools were really like inside.

    Vallas’ Zero Tolerance program would have been better named Zero Effectiveness. Things grew worse under the Vallas era (error). Ask him where he put the artwork he took out of the schools which had hung there for years. Better yet, ask him about the safety report he comissioned and then sat on when he found out how bad things were in the schools. Vallas wouldn’t release it when he found out it contained nothing he could use against the school safety advocate, Harvey Rice, How about Paul’s pal that he brought in from Chicago who was wasting our tax money while tooling around town in rented Mustangs (and working for the St. Louis School District at the same time). Ask him why Gregory Thorton, the second in command, took a bribe of a free trip to South Africa from a company and then reward this same company with a no-bid contract. How did Paul “discipline” him? That guy is now running the Chester school district nearby. As foir the books they came in via the school takeover before Vallas ever came to town. Don’t forget all the new schools Paul promised to build and nobody can find. Not to mention the $183 million deficit that Paul left us in when he skipped down. Cleanup guy? Yeah, he sure cleaned up. BTW, when was Russo ever out in Philly? Ask him what exactly is was that Vallas “got done”.

    Check George Schmidt’s Substance website for all the “wonderful” things Paul did out in Chicago.

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