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John McDonogh Flunkie “Manager” Steve Barr Is Doing Just Fine in Los Angeles

April 6, 2015

The Los Angeles (LA) Times has a column entitled, “Chat and Selfie.” On April 4, 2015, the column featured “education rabble rouser Steve Barr.”

The column featured Barr taking a “selfie” “in front of his Silver Lake (Los Angeles) home.” In California, of course, because that is where he lives.

steve barr selfie

Steve Barr’s Los Angeles “Selfie”

Barr is in Los Angeles– not New Orleans, where he decided in 2012 to long-distance “manage” the over-100-year-old John McDonogh High School– and decided in 2014 to long-distance ditch the project after two years of doing nothing.

McDonogh was supposed to be renovated. Nothing happened. (Photos below from Crazy Crawfish’s October 2013 posting on McDonogh.)

john mcdonogh

john mcdonogh2

john mcdonogh3

john mcdonogh4

Rat feces/termites?/rotting wood

john mcdonogh5


Asbestos, rat feces, rotting wood, and in October 2011, we have then-Recovery School District (RSD) superintendent John White basically telling McDonogh parents, students, and staff that renovation was contingent upon test scores rising. In the 12-minute Youtube video below, White also talks about finding the “right” operator for McDonogh.


That’s right, McDonogh parents: You put up with that asbestos and rat feces, those leaky windows and rotten floors, until your kids Make the Grade.

White throws the word “commitment” around often in his psychologically-twisted, “no renovation without higher test scores first” approach, but when it came to Barr’s commitment to McDonogh, failure was not only an option– it was a convenient escape without any inkling of consequence.

No inkling.

No loss to Barr. Not his community. Not his kids attending that school. (They attend school in Silver Lake, and I’m thinking their floors are rat-feces free.) Just a long-distance business deal that did not pan out.

And what with New Orleans being 1,892 miles from Los Angeles, few in the City of Angels likely understand the implications of Barr’s failure to follow through on his commitment in the City That Care Forgot.

There will be no Barr “selfies” in front of dilapidated, as-of-yet un-renovated, closed McDonogh High. The future of McDonogh remains unsettled.

Not Barr’s problem.

Hypocritically, in his “Chat and Selfie” moment, Barr criticizes Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti for being “M.I.A. on education.”

M.I.A., like the California-based charter “manager” of a now-closed New Orleans school.

In an attempt to compare education to a leaf blower, Barr responds, “The education debate has been loud and windy….”

Like the wind blowing through the vacant halls of a now-gutted McDonogh, 1,892 miles away from the man who agreed to “manage” it in 2012.

His lack of concern for his irresponsibility towards the New Orleans community for bailing on McDonogh aside, Barr ends his “Chat and Selfie” time by noting that he does not plan to “publicly scold” any “California public figure,” as the interviewer apparently asked. No. Not Barr. When it comes to California, he’s a man of responsibility, “the man in the mirror” who notes that “there is no reason why we”– California– “should not have the best schools in the country.”

To Los-Angeles-based Barr, “we” was never New Orleans, and it certainly wasn’t John McDonogh High School on Esplanade Avenue.


Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has her second book available on pre-order, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, due for publication May/June 2015.

  1. In all my years as a public school teacher, it never ceases to amaze me how dumb the taxpayer continues to swallow the lies of the appointed overlords! Steve

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Laura chapman permalink

    And what was his dollar take from this fiasco? And who wrote the long distance management contact.? And why has nobody investigated this fraud?

  3. Reblogged this on Crazy Normal – the Classroom Exposé and commented:
    That’s right, McDonogh parents: You put up with that asbestos and rat feces, those leaky windows and rotten floors, until your kids Make the Grade.

  4. Not the first or last time Steve Barr associated with taking the money and running

    Last year we created a Steve Barr FAQ when he was openly supporting a corporate reformer for our local teachers union.

  5. Mavericks are always so cute. The Media just loves ’em.
    Until you have to clean up their maverick pies …

  6. Steve Barr has indeed moved on. After turning in the charter for John McDonogh HS his organization has shifted their focus. It must be real nice to simply cut and run out of parents and students after you’ve failed to deliver on promises. The Louisiana Department forced FINS on the John Mc community and now no one is held accountable for the failure. Someone should be brought up on criminal charters for what has happened at this school.

  7. Reblogged this on Education Talk New Orleans and commented:
    If anyone thinks #nolaed should be followed as some kind of #education reform, think again. What happened at John Mc is the poster child of what’s wrong with the education reforms in New Orleans.

  8. I watched the John White video. Revolting is too nice of a label to put on his presentation, tone and crazy demands he puts on the John Mac community.
    There is no way he puts such demands on his favorite “Too Big To Fail” charters.

    John White should be placed UNDER the jail.

  9. Jack Covey permalink

    Gary Rubenstein did a brilliant critique of Barr’s performance in that god-awful, Oprah-produced high school reality show about their take-over of New Orlean’s John McDonough High school, commenting that Barr, in his opinion, badly mistreated the community members critical of his school in one scene. At one point, Barr blamed the community, “This school is what 5 generations of crap looks like.”

    Well, apparently Barr’s contempt and mistreatment is not limited to them.

    When Gary wrote that, he might not have been aware of Steve’s attitude towards career teachers—long-timers, unionized, teaching at traditional public schools… and who, as a reward for a demanding career and all a teacher’s hard work, will have something to look forward to—retirement, decent old age health benefits—once a teacher’s long haul of a career is over.

    Well check out this little nugget BELOW. (The Internet rocks!)

    If one has any doubt about Steve Barr’s contempt for unionized teachers at traditional public schools, and the work that those teachers do, check what Steve say about them here.

    Envisioning a world where public education is extinct, and privatization rules, Barr opines…

    (again, CAPS mine)
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    “Says Barr, in his classic no-nonsense style:

    ” ‘Where are these SHITTY TEACHERS going to go? Where are these LIFETIME BENEFITS going to go? What will happen to all of these GROUPS PROTECTING THEIR INTERESTS AND JOBS (read: “GROUPS” = “teacher’s unions”… Jack) and their construction contracts?

    “The political puzzle of this is really fascinating. But I have no doubt that within five years, you’re going to see our impact. And it’s going to be huge.’ ”

    – – – – – – – – – –

    This 2006 piece is from the L.A. Weekly, which is ever-worshipful of all things privatization, so this gushing article might be hard to take (or amusing, as I found it):

    That’s the page with the quote. Here’s a link to the first page:

    Barr says, let’s see how things are “in five years.” Well, it’s been nine since the article (2006), and eight years since Green Dot took over Locke….

    … well for one thing, ex-Green Dot teacher Brett Wyatt, Green Dot’s equivalent of “THE INSIDER”—the tobacco industry’s Jeffrey Weigand, played by Russel Crowe in the movie—has part of that answer here:

    and the L.A. Times bathroom article has another part of that answer here:,0,2501944.story

    Check out the photo of the Green Dot/Locke’s students’ bathrooms bereft of bathroom stall dividers. Does this look like a bathroom at a school with an extra $15,000,000 of private funding?

    Again, a 30-second Google search yielded a site where bathroom stall dividers cost a mere $ 90 each:

    $ 15,000,000 of private funding—on top of the per-pupil allotment that LAUSD gives charters? Where did all that money go? Based on that photo, not to fix the bathrooms!

    This isn’t the school-to-prison pipeline. It’s the school-as-prison, where students have to “use it” the way they do it in the clink… squatting down where everyone else can see you.

    As to Barr’s disgust for lifetime health and retirement benefits given to teachers after a long, difficult career, that’s been taken care of to his satisfaction, at least with Green Dot teachers… since how much retirement or post-career health benefits can you collect if your teaching career is 3 years or less? (that time frame based on Wyatt’s list in the link ABOVE).

  10. Jack Covey permalink

    Also, check out this coda to Barr’s dalliance in New Orleans:

    Let’s see…

    — selling John Mac’s laptops with student data still on them—
    Social Security Numbers, addresses, phone numbers,
    etc. still on them;

    — the national spokesman of “FUTURE IN NOW”
    charters says the breach of private personal
    info is not their problem any more because
    their local branch, “FUTURE IS NOW — New Orleans”
    “doesn’t exist any more”

    — the RSD spokesman claiming they’re not
    responsible because they “trained (FUTURE IS
    NOW- N.O.) charter staff on property-disposal procedures,
    but had not checked up on devices until now. We relied
    on the operators actually following the protocol,”
    he said.

    M. Schneider: “And there we have yet another
    problem with lack of oversight in the name of
    charter *freedom*: ‘Trusting’ that those
    preparing for disposal the property from
    the school that ‘just didn’t make it’ will
    actually ‘follow procedure.’ ”

    Mercedes wrote this great piece on the how, why,
    what, etc. regarding Steve Barr and his “FUTURE
    IS NOW” charter chain’s abandonment of their
    New Orleans charter expansion—the one
    celebrated by Oprah Winfrey in a reality
    show, if you recall.

    After the show falsely called the pre-existing school
    John McDonough “the most dangerous
    school in America” to drum up ratings,
    community members were outraged.

    The ham-fisted Barr insulted those same
    community members when he described the
    challenges he faced in the community:
    “This is what seven generations of crap looks

    It all went downhill from there as it was covered
    in your blog at the time:

  11. LeBleezy permalink

    Holy crap, I think I’m in love…great blog, fellow LSU alum. Keep up the great work!

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  1. John McDonogh High School Building Finally Under Renovation, School Itself Not Returning | deutsch29

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