Gumbo gumption

What do you call a re-opened school in New Orleans? Most likely, you call it a charter school, John Merrow reported last week on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Most of the 12,000 students who have returned to the city (out of a pre-hurricane public school population of 60,000) find themselves in charters. While the city's charter-centric strategy for rebuilding its public schools provides many exciting opportunities, it also brings challenges, as detailed in a recent Times-Picayune piece. Principal Barbara McPhee (whose school was chartered late last year) put it this way: "It was like waking up one morning and finding out that you're not just the instructional leader, you're also the business person. It was like, ‘Who's going to mow the lawn?'" Charter school heads are now responsible for many tasks previously handled by the district, including recruiting teachers, making business decisions, and overseeing school operations. To help, local leaders launched an organization, New Schools for New Orleans, which will train leaders for new charter schools. In the Big Easy, positive change in city schools is happening daily. Turn away for an instant, and you're sure to miss something big.

"Graduations Mark the End of a Traumatic Year for New Orleans Schools," NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, June 2, 2006

"Nonprofit eases schools' burdens," by Steve Ritea, Times-Picayune, June 3, 2006

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