It’s hard to understand the reaction of residents of New Orleans to the Recovery School District, which was created after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the city’s public schools (“Charter schools’ progressive promise for the future of US education,” New York Post, Jul. 4).
Prior to the creation of the state-controlled entity, the city’s schools were among the worst in the nation. Since taking over all but a handful of city schools, the Recovery School District has improved student performance. In 2017, for example, 59 percent of public high school students there graduated in four years. That compares with just 54 percent in 2004, an improvement rate almost three times as fast as the state’ average.
Yet many New Orleans residents have resented the Recovery School District from the very start. Black residents in particular, who constitute the majority of the population, don’t think the schools are better after Katrina. Perhaps that is because the black teaching force decreased from about 71 percent to less than 50 percent. Moreover, over 7,000 other school employees lost their jobs, and 60 percent of the charter board members are white.
Attitudes about schools anywhere are dependent on so many factors that can’t be quantified. New Orleans is no different in that regard. At first glance, I would have thought residents would be pleased with the improvements there. But that is not the case.
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