Reports show disparities in quality, openness of Uptown schools

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Uptown schools vary widely in both the quality of their instruction and their openness to the public, according to a pair of reports released this week.

Schools run by the Recovery School District in Baton Rouge – originally designed to take over the state’s worst-performing schools, and the governing body of many New Orleans schools since Hurricane Katrina – still show far worse results than those run locally in Orleans Parish, according to results released by the state Department of Education and compiled for the New Orleans area by the Times-Picayune. Uptown schools run directly by the Recovery School District, such as Walter Cohen High School, and even some of its charters, such as the Sojourner Truth Academy, were rated “academically unacceptable.”

Uptown New Orleans is also home to some of the best schools in the city, the results show. Lusher charter schools’ five-star rating marks it as among the absolute highest-scoring in the state. Three other charters – Audubon Charter Schools, the International School of Louisiana and KIPP Believe Academy – and the Orleans Parish-run Benjamin Franklin Elementary all earned scores that were deemed a “mark of excellence.”

In a separate report this week by The Lens, a nonprofit online journalism organization, the charter schools showed wide variety of responses to requests for information about their boards. All public governing bodies (including school boards) are subject to state open-meetings laws, but some charter schools were unaware that they too must comply.

Audubon in particular was singled out by The Lens for its quick response to sharing information about its board meetings. Lusher, Firstline schools (including Samuel J. Green and Arthur Ashe charters Uptown) and the Crocker Arts and Technology school were also all willing to share their schedule of board meetings and send an advance copy of their meeting agendas. On the opposite end of the spectrum, KIPP, Sojourner Truth and Sophie B. Wright would not, according to a list compiled by The Lens.

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