Are charter schools working in New Orleans?
Doesn’t seem like its been 10 years, but Hurricane Katrina changed the landscape and lives of so many when it made landfall in New Orleans a short decade ago.
When talking about Katrina, it’s nearly impossible to do so without nuance. To be singular when mentioning a storm that caused over 7,000 teachers to lose their jobs and the creation of an all charter school system in New Orleans is almost dangerous.
But focusing on one issue may not be.
Education in New Orleans isn’t what it used to be pre-Katrina. Thousands of teachers who helped lead the former school system were let go after the storm. They were, as described by Salon.com, the backbone of the city’s middle class.
Now that the school choice movement has completely enveloped New Orleans, the leaders of it are attempting to tout how successful its been. They celebrate higher test scores and stricter disciplinary measures.
It is a model that many are attempting to sell across the country.
Yet we’re still left to wonder how well it’s actually working.
Salon.com has a piece that delves into the waters of the new New Orleans educational system. While slanted, it still gives great depth into what students, parents, and leaders are going through in an effort to create more change or at least sustain what’s been created.
From the looks of it, the Recovery School District that is laced with charter schools are ostensibly autonomous. Each school is led by the theory of singular creation but ultimately falls under the dressing of formality.
A strong emphasis on test scores is made for each school, and if one or a few schools start to lag behind, they face being consolidated under the wing of another, more successful school.
It’s also worth noting that most of the city’s educational leaders are white. Prior to the storm, the leadership closely represented the make-up of the community and students.
New Orleans is 65% black.
Whether it is a production of the storm due to displacement or a planned theory, the city has certainly taken on a different hue and form since Katrina.
Nuance deserves a place when speaking about New Orleans pre and post Katrina. And the city’s educational system most definitely should be talked about in layers.
Still–recognizing how damaging, or may successful, school choice has been for one area doesn’t mean the carbon copy of it may work for the next region.