Over the past five years, New Orleans has turned tragedy into triumph. It has quickly become the most market based school district in the country. The state of Louisiana took over most of the schools in the district and turned them into successful charter schools. As a result, 70 percent of students in New Orleans will be attending a charter school in the fall—the highest rate of any district in the nation. Additionally, the district now has an open choice policy that allows students to attend any public school regardless of their geographical location.
So far, the numbers show it has been mostly successful. A recent Stanford University study highlighted Louisiana…where charter schools outperform traditional pub lic schools. Louisiana Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek reports that in New Orleans, the combined district test scores have risen 24 percent since 2005, when most stu dents attended traditional schools.
I hate to say this… I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina. That education system was a disaster. It took hurricane Katrina to wake up the community and say we have to do better. The progress that they've made in four years is unbelievable.