Five years later, New Orleans schools on the rise

| November 4, 2010

As the new school year commenced in the USA, New Orleans – decimated by Hurricane Katrina five years ago – finds itself with a transformed education system.

Teachers came to the city from all parts of the country to take their place in a growing number of new schools. With them came NGOs like Teach for America, the New
Teacher Project, and New Leaders for New Schools. School choice has become a central and defining characteristic of public schooling in the city, says the Principal of the new Sophie B. Wright Charter School. Charter schools feature strongly on the menu of 88 new or refurbished institutions.

Before Katrina, most of the city’s schools had been earmarked by the state as ‘academically unacceptable’. Now, says the State Superintendent of public instruction, there is a “dramatic increase in academic achievement”. Many residents feel this improvement is due to the state’s decision to take over most public schools.
Critics say it’s too early to celebrate success, pointing to the lack of credible research done on the region’s recovery since Katrina. Crucial baseline data on the state of schooling prior to the disaster was also literally washed away during the hurricane. October saw the first formal conference on post-Katrina education research at the
University of New Orleans. Topics under discussion included changing racial demographics, student achievement, the impact of charter schools and post-traumatic stress
disorders in pre-schoolers.

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Category: Summer 2010

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