Good news is hard to come by in New Orleans these days, but this might qualify: the Orleans Parish's school board has agreed to charter all 13 schools in the city's West Bank. Furthermore, according to the Times-Picayune, Mayor Ray Nagin has asked Governor Kathleen Blanco to "help him create a citywide charter school system." As John Maginnis, a Louisiana political commentator, writes in the Picayune, "A network of well-run, well-financed schools with motivated faculties could attract families back to the city the way the old mismanaged, bankrupt system attracted FBI agents." If this comes to fruition, it's a great start on a comprehensive plan (see here and here) to revitalize the city's educational opportunities. However, veteran Louisiana charter watchers urge caution before breaking out the champagne. The state's charter law is famously weak, and they surmise that the promised new charters in the Big Easy will actually be under the school board's thumb, not truly independent. (Maybe this is just a play for the $20 million in charter schools funding the feds have made available to Louisiana.) That would, of course, be a huge wasted opportunity.
"Orleans board makes 13 schools charters," by Steve Ritea, Times-Picayune, October 8, 2005
"Thinking outside the board on schools," by John Maginnis, Times-Picayune, October 12, 2005
"Louisiana Awarded $20.9 Million No Child Left Behind Grant to Assist Damaged Charter Schools, Create New Charter Schools," U.S. Department of Education press release, September 30, 2005