The Politics of Education Reform: Lessons from New Orleans
Journal of Law & Education, Vol. 40, No. 1, Spring 2011
42 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2010 Last revised: 8 Dec 2011
Date Written: October 13, 2010
Hurricane Katrina demolished the educational facilities and state leaders took the opportunity to raze the broken educational governance structures in New Orleans. Leaders re-created the Orleans Parish School District based on the education reforms sweeping the nation: school choice, accountability, state takeover of failing schools, and charter schools. The city is now the proving ground for modern education reforms and policymakers from around the country are watching closely. The mistakes made and lessons learned in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina can act as a roadmap for states and districts moving toward the “new” education model - choice plans, charter schools and greater state involvement in education. This article focuses on the politics shaping the education reform efforts in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. It discusses the political divides and hurdles that arise when choice and charter models are adopted. It is these political battles, and not student achievement data and school performance scores, which determines the form and substance of education reform. The disparate agendas of the interest groups - such as the teacher’s union, the state, the Orleans Parrish School Board, charter operators, and the federal government - have radically shaped the course of reconstructing education in New Orleans. Tracking these diverse interests and the political fault lines they create provides a window into similar political forces that will affect education reform in states that adopt school choice, charter schools and state takeover measures.
Keywords: New Orleans, Charter Schools, School Choice, Recovery School District, Education Reform
JEL Classification: I2
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation