New Orleans’ new schools

Five years after New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, the city’s bet on charter schools has begun to pay off, writes Jed Horne in Education Next. 

Before Katrina, two thirds of students attended a low-performing school. That number has been cut in half.  New Orleans public schools are improving at three to four times the statewide rate.

Some 71 percent of students now attend charter schools.

 For a change, extraordinarily good things could be said about New Orleans’s traditionally atrocious public school system.

After Katrina, the sstate-run Recovery School District took control of most New Orlenas schools; the Orleans Parish School Board was left with a handful of  high-performing magnet schools, some of which have chosen to go charter.

Under the old order, the all-powerful school board and central office had seemed to view the district more as an adult jobs program and dispenser of patronage-based contracts than as a source of education for young people.

Now, by design, no single apparatus of power—not OPSB, RSD, or the charter schools and charter management organizations that answered to them and to the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE)—could assert hegemony and dominate the others.

Horne writes about the future of New Orleans’ schools, some of which may return to local control.