New Orleans charter schools bring fresh air to devastated city

By Yaël Ossowski / April 16, 2015 / Watchdog.org

After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans charter
schools are giving students more hope for academic success than their
peers, the latest studies reveal.

A study brief released last week
by Tulane University’s Cowen Institute details the rise and promise of
Charter Management Organizations in reorganizing education in New
Orleans’ schools.

These organizations ensure that independent charter schools are no
longer centralized as under the old public system, handing
responsibility over to charter boards who make decisions about
administration, financial concerns and more.

More than 91 percent of students in New Orleans now attend a charter school, the highest rate in the United States.

Now there are more school boards then ever, promising decentralized decision-making that is delivering results.

There are now just 1,056 students per school board, according to the study, a huge decline from the 2004 high of 16,000.

The researchers in this study believe human capital, service sharing,
program consistency and more give New Orleans charter schools run by
these organizations huge advantages over traditional public school
systems.

In the same vein, a study from Stanford conducted last month found New Orleans charter school students had more academic growth than peers in traditional public schools.

“New Orleans is a fine example of an extended commitment to improving
schools,” said Margaret Raymond, director of Stanford University’s
Center for Research on Education Outcomes, which conducted the Urban Charter School Study.

Over 53 percent of New Orleans students who graduated last year immediately attended college, according to the state’s figures, a huge increase from the 37 percent who enrolled in college right after graduation in 2004.

It’s a breath of fresh air for the Big Easy, which has previously had
some of the poorest schools in the country, a fate not held certain
after the mighty waters of the 2005 hurricane wiped out entire sections
of the iconic city.

In order to rebuild education in a city destroyed by Mother Nature,
state and city leaders turned to independently operated public schools,
known as charter schools. These schools have flexibility in how they
craft their administration, but are still held to the same standard as
all schools.

Since 2006, there has been an explosion of the number of charter
schools in New Orleans, as local leaders saw huge opportunities to
innovate and allow independent authorities, rather than the state alone,
to plan and administer schools.

Yaël Ossowski is an international consumer activist and writer. His writings and interviews have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and online outlets across the world in multiple languages. He is founder and editor of Devolution Review, deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center, and senior development officer for Students For Liberty. He was previously a national investigative reporter at Watchdog.org. He has a Master’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics, Economics (PPE) from the CEVRO Institute in Prague and a Bachelor's in Political Science from Concordia University, Montreal. He currently splits his time between Vienna, Austria and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Website https://yael.ca
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