The Experiment

Since Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has emerged as an education-reform laboratory, a grand experiment in parental choice and teacher accountability where 70 percent of schools are charters and 1,700 students take advantage of vouchers (a program now being supercharged—throughout the whole state—under Governor Jindal’s new education-reform plan). This new documentary follows five children (from supportive families) in the middle of this experiment for one year—among them, a KIPPster, a student in a Recovery School District school, and a child attending Catholic school thanks to a voucher. The story is compelling—if not altogether unfamiliar. And it offers a boon for those new to the education-reform arena and craving a fast, painless tutorial on the ins and outs of education in the Big Easy today. But the film also reminds the viewer that the future of that city’s bold education reforms is far from certain. For example, Ben Lemoine, the film’s director, profiles local detractors who would curb the city’s charter sector and turn school governance back to the traditional district. Not such a “big easy” initiative, after all, but the film is well worth viewing.

SOURCE: Ben Lemoine, director, The Experiment (Covington, LA: Fleurish Productions, 2012).

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