School & District Management Blog

Urban Education: Lessons From New Orleans

Douglas N. Harris is the director of the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans and a Professor of Economics and the University Endowed Chair in Public Education at Tulane University. He is on twitter at @Era_NOLA. This blog is no longer being updated, but you can continue to explore these issues on by visiting our related topic pages: urban education.

Education Opinion The Betsy DeVos Agenda: What the Evidence Says
My recent New York Times op-ed and a longer version of the piece that appeared in Education Next seem to have sparked a raucous debate over DeVos and her ideas. I'm glad for that much. We need a rich debate on these important issues, and that's why I'm taking the unusual step of a third round of comment.
Douglas N. Harris, December 13, 2016
18 min read
School & District Management Opinion New Evidence on How Charter Authorizers Can Build Better Schools
Perhaps the most under-analyzed piece of the charter movement is the charter authorizer. Headlines about charters generally focus either on the schools themselves or on their charter management organizations, but this misses the fact that someone--the authorizer--is deciding which of these schools are even allowed to exist. It is the ultimate choice: which schools are allowed to open and which are forced to close? How and how well do government-approved authorizers make these decisions?
Douglas N. Harris, September 12, 2016
4 min read
Education Opinion What Baton Rouge Means: From Alton Sterling and the Great Flood to School Reform
In light of recent events, I am taking a brief break from my usual focus on urban education research and policy to discuss events in Baton Rouge that are relevant to schooling but have broader significance.
Douglas N. Harris, August 25, 2016
3 min read
Education Opinion Even with New Trump-et, Republican Platform Sings Same Tune
After commenting on the Democratic platform on education, I'm turning to the Republican side. While the tensions are clearly more intense on the Democratic side (hardly surprising after 8 years with a Democratic president), the Republicans are threading their own needles.
Douglas N. Harris, August 3, 2016
6 min read
Education Opinion The Democratic Platform: More of a Victory for Reformers Than It Seems
It's convention time for both the Democratic and Republican parties, and I'll take turns discussing their education platforms, which are a useful windows into the current status of political debates and harbingers of compromises to come. I'll start with Democrats.
Douglas N. Harris, July 25, 2016
8 min read
School & District Management Opinion Is School Reform Really Driving Teachers Out of the Profession?
The idea that school reform, especially test-based accountability is driving teachers out of the profession has been widely reported in the media. When we actually look at the data, there is evidence of problems in the teacher pipeline to be sure, but not an overall teacher shortage.
Douglas N. Harris, July 11, 2016
6 min read
Recruitment & Retention Opinion Why Vergara-Like Lawsuits Will Likely Fail (and Where They Might Succeed)
Every once in a while the courts make a decision that is both surprisingly and profoundly important. The Vergara suit in California, challenging standard teacher personnel laws, was just such a case.
Douglas N. Harris, June 20, 2016
8 min read
School & District Management Opinion Can Charter Schools Be 'Democratic'? Should They?
The coming partial return of charter schools from the state to the Orleans Parish School Board, which I described in a prior post, raises interesting questions about the role of local democratic control of schools. My argument here is that the governance of charter schools, and especially an almost-all-charter system like New Orleans, has to be less democratic than traditional school districts.
Douglas N. Harris, June 9, 2016
4 min read
Education Opinion Student Mobility Dropped in New Orleans, But Why?
I've noticed that one topic in school reform debates gets much less attention than it deserves: student mobility. This is a key metric because it reflects both the hopes and the fears of proponents of choice and market-based reforms.
Douglas N. Harris, May 25, 2016
3 min read
Education Opinion Another First in New Orleans? Redefining Local Control of Schools
New Orleans was the first city in the country to move to an almost-all-charter school system, but that system has been governed mostly by the state. Now, the city seems poised for another first: to become the first almost-all-charter district governed by a traditional, locally elected school board.
Douglas N. Harris, April 28, 2016
6 min read
Education Opinion Governing Schools Like Colleges, Part II
In the prior post, I described an argument that we should govern our schools like our colleges. In this post, I take on one piece of that argument—the conventional wisdom that our colleges are better than our schools.
Douglas N. Harris, April 18, 2016
6 min read
Education Opinion Should K-12 Schools Be Governed Like Colleges?
For close observers of U.S. education policy, one thing that stands out is that we govern our K-12 schools very differently from our colleges and universities. Some opponents of traditional K-12 policy also argue that the less-regulated, market-driven system in higher education yields better results. Are they right?
Douglas N. Harris, April 4, 2016
4 min read
Education Opinion Dear Wall Street Journal, Let's Be Serious
I spend a lot of time on this blog addressing questionable interpretations of evidence related to various types of school reforms--choice, charters, test-based accountability, teacher evaluation, vouchers. In most cases, at least some of the arguments have an element of truth. But, really, Wall Street Journal? Surely, you can do better than what you wrote in your Saturday editorials.
Douglas N. Harris, March 23, 2016
2 min read
School & District Management Opinion Should Voucher Schools Be Allowed to Use Admission Requirements?
In the debate about whether excessive regulation explains the negative effects of the Louisiana voucher program, I still see no evidence, suggestive or otherwise, that this is the case.
Douglas N. Harris, March 14, 2016
2 min read