The State of Public Education in New Orleans: Five Years after Hurricane Katrina

In August 2010, New Orleans and the Gulf Coast will commemorate the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  The Cowen Institute is pleased to release 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.  Click here to download the report.

When Hurricane Katrina blew through New Orleans 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 publication 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 report will inform the dialogue as the New Orleans community seeks to answer these questions.

Since the Cowen Institute opened its doors at Tulane University in 2007, we have published an annual State of Public Education in New Orleans report to provide an ongoing chronicle and assessment of the reform efforts.  These publications have included a comprehensive description of the current system, an assessment of public opinion, and a list of accomplishments and challenges still facing schools and students. These annual reports have been widely distributed and recognized as a credible resource for the public education system in the city.  They are available for download here.

While we all have very mixed emotions about the upcoming anniversary, we will certainly celebrate the significant improvements that continue to be made in bettering the lives of our city’s youth.

You can leave comments about the report here, on our blog.

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