The State of Public Education in New Orleans: Five Years After Hurricane Katrina
The Scott S. Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives at Tulane University
July 2010


Abstract:
In August 2010, New Orleans and the Gulf Coast will commemorate the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  The Scott S. Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives at Tulane University is pleased to release this briefing, The State of Public Education in New Orleans: Five Years after Hurricane Katrina, to provide journalists, policymakers, community leaders, and the public with information, context, and thoughtful analyses about the reform efforts that have taken place in the K-12 public education system in the five years since the storm devastated our city.

When Hurricane Katrina blew through New Orleans in the fall of 2005, it decimated one of the nation’s worst performing public school systems. Never has a failing urban public school system experienced the near total destruction of resources and responded with such radical change. A hybrid model where charter schools outnumber district-operated schools two to one has resulted in a newfound emphasis on innovation and school autonomy. While significant challenges remain, the new model of delivering education to the city’s youth has begun to yield results. Today, the once academically, morally, and financially bankrupt system is nationally recognized as a potential model for urban school system transformation.

This latest report explains and illustrates the evolution of this radical change in the public education landscape of New Orleans.  The city’s residents and the state government face a number of open questions about the future of public education in New Orleans including: Who will govern and operate schools?  Who will teach?  How much school choice is optimal?  We hope that this document, and the other work produced by the Cowen Institute over the past three years, will continue to inform our community as we seek to answer these questions.

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