2 Louisiana politicians and business leaders were plotting behind closed doors to turn New Orleans into the
first all-charter school district.
Three months after Katrina, the Louisiana legislature passed Act 35 allowing the state-run Recovery School District
to take over 107 New Orleans public schools previously controlled by the Orleans Parish School Board
OPSB then fired over 7,500 school employees, including 4,000 teachers. The stated goal of Act 35 was to allow the RSD to
“meet the educational
students residing in the jurisdiction of the transferring school system.”
This did not happen. What did happen was the implementation of
real agenda to privatize public education by recklessly closing or converting all district-run schools.
The results of that plan are clear: in May 2014, RSD will close the last five public schools and become the first all-charter district in the nation.
RSD told parents and community members that it was closing schools to improve the educational outcomes and increase academic achievement, but that was false. Today, most students in RSD still attend underperforming or failing schools.
As cities across America are ha
iling the New Orleans “experiment” as
a national example of
driven investors, researchers and philanthropists claim “victory,”
many African-American New Orleanians tell a cautionary tale.
Most African-American students are still trapped in failing or near-failing public schools, experience a deeper, more severe form of
4 (2006) (Hurricane Katrina created a "once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity to create a fundamentally better public education system in New Orleans.”) available at:
http://www.louisianaschools.net/lde/uploads/8932.doc (last viewed May 4, 2014); R
(2006). Private foundations and the federal government exerted significant influence on the State and New Orleans to increase the presence of charter schools. The federal government offered Orleans Parish School Board a $20.9 million grant to help support new and existing charter schools. Similar money was not provided for the district-run public schools. Robert Garda,
The Politics of Education Reform: Lessons from New Orleans
, 40 J.L.
. 57, 67 (Jan. 2011)
. Arne Duncan said Katrina was “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans.” Mary Bruce, “Duncan: Katrina Was the ‘Best Thing’ for New Orleans School System”
(Jan. 29, 2010, 5:26PM), http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2010/01/duncan-katrina-was-the-best-thing-for-new-orleans-schools/;
NOLA, April 1, 2008 (explaining that Hurricane Katrina
presented “both tragedy and opportunity” for New Orleans.).
ANN. § 17:10.7 (2005).
In this complaint, the terms “closure” or “school closure” are meant to capture when a school district closes a school or
changes its management and enrollment status resulting in the removal and exclusion of a significant percentage of the
school’s staff and students. This includes what are often described as “turnarounds” and “conversions” when a district
turns over the management of a school to a charter organization. These are some of the actions required for districts to receive federal school improvement grants.
Recovery School District will be country’s first all
-charter district in September 2014
, Dec. 19, 2013, http://www.nola.com/education/index.ssf/2013/12/recovery_school_district_will_3.html.
2 (2012), http://www.researchonreforms.org/html/documents/Paperon2012SPSk.pdf.
Several districts have already duplicated reforms in New Orleans and are awaiting the results.
Stacy Teicher Khadaroo,
New Orleans goes all in on charter schools. Is it showing the way
, March 1, 2014.
Kristen L. Buras,
New Orleans Education Reform: A Guide for Cities or a Warning for Communities? (Grassroots Lessons Learned, 2005-2010)
, 4 B
1, 123-160 (2013).