What’s next in New Orleans

In Hope for Katrina in the new Education Next — yes, it’s online — explains the transformation of New Orleans’ battered school system: 70 percent of public students are enrolled in schools of choice and even the district-run schools have considerably more independence.

According to the plan’s “educational network model,” the school system would include a mix of charter, contract, and system-run schools, organized in small “networks” of similar schools. . . .

All schools will have considerable autonomy — including control over staffing, the authority to set their own budgets, and the freedom to offer extended school days or longer school years — but will be held accountable for results, and funds will follow students as they choose the schools that best meet their needs. A network manager will provide support and accountability for each network of schools. A “lean” district office will focus on policymaking instead of top-down operational decisions, including a small “strategy group” that will set learning standards and ensure the equitable allocation of resources, but will not mandate teaching methods or control school spending. The other major component of the district organization will be a new central support-services office that will provide optional assistance to help schools obtain services such as food preparation and transportation. One superintendent will direct the network managers, strategy group, and services office and report to the school board, whose role will be oversight, not execution.

Nobody wants to go back to the bad old days.

One of the authors, Kathryn Newmark, blogs at Constrained Vision; she’s leaving the American Enterprise Institute to go to graduate school.

Barry Garelick’s Miracle Math on U.S. schools’ experiments with Singapore’s math curriculum, also is in the new Education Next.

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  1. I wonder if, a year or so from now, that district administrative function will still be able to justify its existence?

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Hope springs eternal.

  3. About Singapore Math:

    I’ve used some of the 1st-6th grade books with my children. It is amazing. But our schools here choose Fuzzy Math. Arrgh.