School Choice & Charters

New Orleans Schools Chief Signals City’s Last District Schools May Become Charters

By Arianna Prothero — December 12, 2016 1 min read
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New Orleans might be on its way to becoming an all-charter school city.

New Orleans’ superintendent, Henderson Lewis Jr., has announced that there’s interest from “current school and charter leaders” in converting the five remaining traditional district schools left in the city into charter schools, according to The Times-Picayune.

If they do, New Orleans will become the first city in the country to be made up entirely of charter schools. Currently about 93 percent of all public school students in the city attend charters.

After Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast a little more than a decade ago, the state of Louisiana took control of New Orleans’ struggling schools—which was most of them. Over the next ten years, the state either closed or converted all of the schools it oversaw into charters. Meanwhile, several schools under the original, locally elected Orleans Parish School Board opted to switch to the charter model on their own, leaving just five schools as non-charters.

For more on how New Orleans’ unorthodox education system works, check out Education Week’s award-winning series on the evolution of public schooling in New Orleans 10 years after Katrina.

Earlier this year, lawmakers approved legislation to return the charter schools overseen by the state to the oversight of the local board, a process that is expected to take about two years.

The Times-Picayune reports that Superintendent Lewis did not provide any further details on plans to potentially convert the remaining five district schools to charters, other than to say more details will likely be coming later this week.

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Photo: The Bienville Elementary School building, in New Orleans’ Gentilly neighborhood, was taken over by First Line Charter Schools where Arthur Ashe Charter School now operates. The state-run Recovery School District chose not to reopen Bienville after Hurricane Katrina. —Swikar Patel/Education Week-File

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.