“If you build it, they will come.”
That famous quote may be from a movie about a fictional baseball field, but it also accurately describes the real-life school choice drama that’s occurring in The Big Easy.
The Washington Post reports that charter schools – independently operated public schools – have proven so popular with New Orleans parents that they’ve driven traditional, government-operated public schools out of business.
During the just-completed school year, an estimated nine of 10 New Orleans students attended a charter.
As a result, New Orleans’ last five government-run schools closed their doors for good this week. The city will be the first in the nation to have a school district comprised entirely of charter schools.
The Post writes:
“An all-charter district signals the dismantling of the central school bureaucracy and a shift of power to dozens of independent school operators, who will assume all the corresponding functions: the authority to hire and fire teachers and administrators, maintain buildings, run buses and provide services to special-needs students.”
New Orleans officials turned to charter school operators to help recreate their broken school system in the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. Before the storm, the city’s public schools were widely viewed as the worst in the nation – not only because of poor academic results for students, but also because of widespread corruption and incompetence among school leaders.