Charter-Driven Gains in New Orleans Schools Face a Big Test
NEW ORLEANS — Nothing has defined and even driven the fractious national debate over education quite like this city and the transformation of its school system in the decade since Hurricane Katrina.
So-called reformers say its successes as an almost all-charter, state-controlled district make it a model for other failing urban school systems. Charter school opponents and unions point to what has happened here as proof that the reformers’ goal is just to privatize education and strip families of their voice in local schools across the country.
Now comes another big moment in the New Orleans story: In the next few weeks, the governor is expected to sign legislation returning the city’s schools to the locally elected school board for the first time since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Strikingly, that return is being driven by someone squarely in the pro-charter camp, the state superintendent, John White. A veteran of touchstone organizations behind the efforts to remake public schools —Teach for America and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and its superintendent training program — as well as the hard-charging charter school efforts in New York City, Mr. White represents the wave of largely white, young idealists who rushed to this city post-Katrina to be part of the Big Thing in education.
To Mr. White, the move to local control is not the retreat it may seem. He argues that it will make New Orleans a new model, radically redefining the role of central school boards just as many urban school districts are shifting increasingly large portions of their students to independently run but Charter-Driven Gains in New Orleans Schools Face a Big Test - The New York Times: