by Neerav Kingsland, William Donovan
Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research
October 16, 2013
Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Louisiana state officials and education leaders in New Orleans were forced to rebuild a public school system that had literally been washed away. But a crisis can lead to great change. The Louisiana Legislature set in motion the creation of a new decentralized school system in New Orleans, made up primarily of charter schools. As comeback stories go, the revival of k-12 public school education in New Orleans is one for the record books. More than 60 percent of public school students in New Orleans attended a school designated as “failing” by state performance standards before the hurricane. By the 2011-2012 school year, only 13 percent of students attended a failing school. Does it take a natural disaster to spur radical change among traditional public school systems or can motivated leaders decide it’s time their schools stopped failing?