Posts Tagged ‘New Orleans’
April 10th, 2013 at 4:00 pm
O’Reilly Speaks O-So-Wrongly About New Orleans

Bill O’Reilly quite literally has no clue what he is talking about when he trashes New Orleans by effectively endorsing Geraldo Rivera’s ignorant description of everything outside of the French Quarter as a “vast urban wasteland” and directly says that local claims to the contrary are just “putting a happy face on things that aren’t happening.” The fact is that every single word of the citizens’ groups letter to O’Reilly is true. I write this not as a native, but as somebody who has done extensive research on this for an as-yet-to-be-written story for a major publication.

In education, civic reform, entrepreneurship, flood protection, and all sorts of other areas, New Orleans actually has become a model of how to do things right. The Wall Street Journal noted as much in a recent piece, as well. Finally, as for crime, as of about 15 months ago (the last available stats I looked at), the odd truth is that while the murder rate is atrociously high (most of it concentrated in several small geographical pockets, which doesn’t make it okay but does mean that most of the city is far safer than the overall number indicates), the overall rate of violent crime per capita puts New Orleans better than at least 70 other American cities. In other words, rape, armed robbery, etcetera are all well down — and while horrid random acts of violence occur there, as they do in any city, they are actually less common than in many, many other places of the same size.

In short, O’Reilly and Rivera are just plain wrong on this one. The Crescent City is an exemplar not of urban decrepitude, but of hugely successful urban renaissance.

March 14th, 2011 at 12:14 pm
Detroit Public Schools Charter a New Course

For every crisis there is an opportunity.  The Detroit public school system is in a fiscal state of emergency with a mandate to eliminate its $327 million deficit.  At first, leadership planned to close 40 of the district’s 142 schools.

Now, more innovative heads have prevailed.  Yesterday it was announced that instead of closing schools the district would convert 41 of them into privately-run charter schools.  Estimated savings to the taxpayer: more than $28 million.  Estimated benefit to parents looking for a hand-up out of failing classrooms: priceless.

Of course, teachers’ union advocates bristle at the idea that nearly one-third of their Detroit membership will be laid off and required to reapply for jobs without costly pension funds and tenure protection.

But the data doesn’t support the status quo.  Since Louisiana lawmakers transformed New Orleans into the only public school system where a majority of students attend charter schools, scores on student achievement exams have risen dramatically.

Louisiana’s reform was made possible by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.  Michigan’s ongoing financial crisis may be just the opportunity Detroit families need to get the education – and the tax relief – they deserve.