School GovernanceAfter Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans public schools underwent dramatic structural changes.  We now have 2 districts and over 30 charter school operators.  We believe it is imperative to explore and advance options that will ensure accountability  for all public schools in New Orleans under this decentralized system.  Drawing on findings from our study Creating a Governing Framework for Public Education in New Orleans, the policy team is dedicated to drafting and advancing a solution.

Current Policy Regarding Return of RSD Charter Schools to OPSB

  • The RSD, according to BESE code, must takeover failing schools for an initial period of no less than 5 years.
  • In 2010, BESE established a policy allowing RSD schools that are deemed academically acceptable after the initial 5 years to choose between remaining under RSD indefinitely or to return to OPSB.
  • In 2015 BESE will review the policy and decide to continue, adjust, or discontinue it.

K-12 Public Education through the Public’s Eye: A Survey of the New Orleans Community (November 2010)

The Scott S. Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives has released the results of its second annual public opinion poll called K-12 Public Education through the Public Eye: A Survey of the New Orleans Community. The opinion poll surveyed New Orleans voters to assess their opinions about recent public education reforms and the future direction of public schools in New Orleans. This is the second year the Cowen Institute has provided the community a platform to express their opinions about public school reform and governance since Hurricane Katrina.

Few communities have the opportunity to think through the organization of their public school system in a way that the city of New Orleans has had and will continue to have over the next few years. As part of the Cowen Institute’s work on informing the educational transformation that is taking place in New Orleans, providing the community a voice is crucial to sustaining positive change.

Click here to read highlights of the survey and download the full results.

The Cowen Institute’s Opinion on Public School Governance (October 2010)

Public education in New Orleans has come a long way in the past five years: the city’s public schools collectively have seen an increase of over 32 percent in their school performance scores and the percent of failing schools has been cut in half. However, the transformation of the city’s school system has also created new challenges. Harnessing the potential of successful reforms while addressing the challenges created by the current complex system requires a new approach to education governance.

In September State Superintendent Pastorek presented his recommendations on governance in New Orleans, and the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) is slated to vote on them in less than two months. To date, discussions relating to governance in New Orleans have divided the community: charter vs. traditionally-operated schools, Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) vs. Recovery School District (RSD), neighborhood schools vs. school choice, teachers vs. teachers, parents vs. parents. Instead, we must come together as New Orleanians to answer a fundamental question: How should the system of public schools in New Orleans be structured to ensure that every child in the city has equal access to a high-quality education?

Click here to continue reading and to share your thoughts.

Managing Innovation: Models for Governing the System of Public Schools in New Orleans

Tulane University’s Cowen Institute and the Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR) have released Managing Innovation: Models for Governing the System of Public Schools in New Orleans. The report presents five potential models for governing public schools in New Orleans and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each. To read more and download the report, click here.

Currently, New Orleans is in the midst of a sweeping reform movement, the scale of which has been seen in few cities. Two efforts, in particular, have defined the movement: the state takeover of most public schools in New Orleans and an explosion in the number of public charter schools. New Orleans has proportionately more charter schools than any other school system in the nation. Harnessing the potential of the reform movement and addressing the challenges created by the current complex system requires a new approach to education governance.

Most discussions relating to school governance focus on issues of control, such as the method of selecting board members. Managing Innovation goes beyond the traditional line of inquiry to a more fundamental issue: How should the school system in New Orleans be structured to allow the reforms under way to succeed and prosper?

Creating a Governing Framework for Public Education in New Orleans

The Cowen Institute has released the first three reports in a series of papers on public school governance called Creating a Governing Framework for Public Education in New Orleans. The series is the first of its kind in New Orleans to look at governing framework options for all public schools in the city. The overall goal of the study is to lay out options for the roles and responsibilities for all governing entities in public education in order to support a system of high-performing public schools.

The initial three reports can be found here.


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