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What’s Really Happening in New Orleans Schools?

I guess it depends on who you read and who you believe.

The New Orleans Schools have had a terrible reputation. The system was dysfunctional, and corrupt, running through a new school superintendent every 11 months. The FBI had so many investigations that it opened an office within the school district.
As a result of Hurricane Katrina (10 years ago) the city fathers decided to start from scratch.  All of the district’s teachers were fired.  The collective bargaining agreement was scratched. The district hired young teachers from outside the city many of who were trained in alternative preparation programs like Teach for America.

A New York Times op-ed concluded, “it is wiser to invest in improving existing educational systems than to start from scratch”. An article in New York Magazine concluded that the school reform in New Orleans, “is the breakthrough in social equity liberals have been waiting for.”

A team led by Douglas N. Harris , the Director of the Education Research alliance for New Orleans, concluded that while test scores rose dramatically because of the post-Katrina reforms.

But, “though disadvantaged students benefited, they seem to have benefited less than other groups.  There are real horror stories about how special education students and others who were suspended and expelled at high rates. And there are signs that high school dropout rates are being under-reported.”

 

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