I became interested in what happened to the public school system in New Orleans post KaTrina after our discussion of Treme. I was expecting to find that the public schools in New Orleans struggled greatly after the hurricane, however, the articles I found actually pointed to drastic improvements in the public schools after the hurricane. I found an article on Huffington Post that was particularly interesting (see text below). The article argued that the city used the hurricane as an opportunity to, “to build -- not rebuild, but build -- a new school system.”
I would like to point to two parts of the article that I found particularly important. First, the article points out that the new schools are largely publicly funded, but privately run. This not only allows for the school to receive money, but also decide how to use it most effectively. I think it is important to think about this in regards to how federal money was handled in the rebuilding of New Orleans. Would poorer parts of New Orleans have rebuilt more successfully and more quickly if they had been given not only more resources, but also more freedom to do what they would like with it? Pre-KaTrina, 64 percent of the public schools were deemed “academically unacceptable” and they were adhering to the federal system. However, once the schools were given more freedom the statistic dropped to 42 percent of the public schools being deemed “academically unsuccessful.” With more freedom and money, could the city have been rebuilt faster and more practically?
Second, I would like to touch on the idea of nature’s affect on the situation. The article explains that, “kids can now go to any school in the city that they choose, whereas before, you had to go to school based on your neighborhood. It's a real free market that isn't being done elsewhere." The flooding physically blurred the lines between neighborhoods and forced people from different towns to interact. Children who were living the poorest parts of town were forced to go to the schools with the least federal funding. However, after the storm, they were able to attend schools in different neighborhoods that received more funding. In this way, the flood physically forced a change in the system.
This was a wonderful article. I pasted the text below, and I would highly recommend reading it if you are at all interested in education.