The African American Leadership Project (AALP) announced its support today (7/29/10) for the reorganization of the public school system in New Orleans as proposed by former Orleans Parish School Board member Rev. Dr. Torin Sanders.
"The Sanders Plan for Governance" creates a single, unified 9 member, term limited district governing board, and consolidates the Recovery School District (RSD) and the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB). It would transfer governance and control of all public schools (charter and non-charter) in Orleans Parish into the hands of local community parents and residents, and institutes decentralized site-based management. The Superintendent would be replaced with a more efficient and accountable Chief Executive Officer, or CEO as parents become more involved and teachers become more accountable.
"After reviewing other proposals to reorganize the school system that are presently being discussed, it is obvious that the Sanders plan is far superior to the other proposals" said Mrs. Gail Glapion, AALP Chairperson and former school board president and board member for 20 years. She went on to add that "accountable governance is a critical element that affects school performance along with equitable and fair distribution of resources, modernized facilities, contemporary materials, a sound curriculum and competent experienced teachers. Of course parental involvement and supportive services are also important factors in student performance. The Sanders plan covers all of these critical elements and intelligently integrates them into a holistic framework."
Every since the state takeover of the schools and the emergence of the charter movement, there has been a confusing and contentious debate regarding governance, accountability, performance, equity, racial disparities and inequalities in the public school system. The RSD record of achievement is uneven, the charter movement is fraught with uncertainty and the OPSB valiantly attempts to educate its children with severely limited resources. It appears that we now have a plan that addresses all of the major issues that might improve results, learning outcomes and performance indicators for our children.
According to Dr. Mtangulizi Sanyika, AALP Project Manager and former Professor of African World Studies at Dillard University "The Sanders plan has numerous advantages not offered by any other proposal: 1) it unifies the RSD and the OPSB, 2) it allows for charters and non charters 3) it supports school autonomy and actively engages the community, 4) it will reduce the performance gap between the races and 5) it will efficiently deploy public resources in a transparent manner, and eliminate waste and duplication . No other proposal comes close to achieving these objectives."
Finally, AALP member and educational advocate Atty. Ernest Jones asserted that " Dr. Sanders clearly did his home work and has produced a masterful plan that holds the promise of unifying parents, teachers, administrators and the public, while improving the quality of education for all children , especially racial/ethnic children of diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. "
The AALP highly recommends the Sanders plan to the citizens of New Orleans as an approach that gives all stakeholders the opportunity to be represented in decision making, and offers a system that can truly deliver a modern educational product to African Americans and all other students. Best practices from around the country strongly suggest that a unified and decentralized system yields superior results. Thus, if the Sanders plan were adopted into law and policy and provided with adequate resources, perhaps we all can move beyond the current state of polarization and confusion and move on with the business of educating our children to become effective citizens in a globally competitive society.
"The Sanders Plan for Governance" is available at www.blacknolathinktank.blogspot.com.
The AALP is a broad based nonpartisan network of community, religious, business, and academic leaders, organizers, activists, planners and citizens focused on policy research analysis and advocacy, strategic dialogue on critical issues, community planning and neighborhood development, and consensus based Agenda building. It has been in existence for 5 1/2 years. For more information, e-mail the AALP at email@example.com, or post a comment at www.aalp.org.
In 2004, Dr. Sanders was elected as a reform candidate and served as the board's president until his decision not to seek re-election in 2008. Dr. Mtangulizi Sanyika contributed to the writing of this article.
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