Nothing easy in the Big Easy
Amy Waldman's long and richly detailed account of New Orleans education reform, post-Katrina, follows the efforts of businessmen (such as James Huger, who opened a new charter school), longtime education bureaucrats (such as Robin Jarvis, who was put in charge of the Recovery School District), and outsiders (such as Daniel Hudson, an RSD principal). The struggles these leaders faced ranged from the mundane but predictable, such as lack of textbooks, teacher shortages, and leaky buildings, to the absurd, such as when the Southern Christian Leadership Conference likened Jarvis's activities to the Klan. Waldman depicts these protagonists as all-too-human, making their share of blunders and sometimes fighting one another instead of combating the situation. No matter. They all deserve recognition as heroes, because while others have abandoned the city and its children, they stay and fight for their future.
"Reading, Writing, and Resurrection," by Amy Waldman, The Atlantic Monthly, January 2007 (subscription required)