“Slave” market education reform in NOLA? #NOLAEdWarning

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and communities across the Gulf Coast. The destruction and displacement that followed the storm created what some considered a window of opportunity for sweeping changes in New Orleans’ public education system. The state-run Recovery School District assumed control of the vast majority of public schools in Orleans Parish and turned their operation over to charter school management organizations, with the autonomy to recruit new teachers and educational leaders. Veteran teachers in New Orleans were fired en masse. Neighborhood public schools were closed and “choice” among privately managed charter schools defined the new landscape. In 2014-2015, New Orleans became the nation’s first all-charter school district and cities across the nation have begun to adopt the “New Orleans model” of urban school reform.”Kristen-Buras-300x300-300x300

The purpose of the Ten-Year Community-Centered New Orleans Education Research Conference was to prompt a national conversation among prominent urban education researchers and community members most intimately affected by such reform to illuminate effects on the ground. Does research evidence and experiential knowledge suggest the New Orleans model is a guide for cities nationally? Or do the effects on poor and working-class communities of color suggest an alternative policy future for urban public schools? Given ongoing concerns over racial and economic injustice, retrenchment of civil rights, and educational inequity, the ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina presents an ideal, even catalytic, moment to reflect on the progress of recent policy initiatives. Gathering scholars and community-based stakeholders from cities nationwide, this conference will enable careful and collective consideration of the evidence in charting the educational future of our children and the realization of freedom dreams that have inspired previous generations. Kristen Buras, Ph.D.

This past week I had the opportunity to gather with education stakeholders from across the nation in New Orleans at Ten-Year Community-Centered New Orleans Education Research Conference.

I attended to chair a panel on Teach For America’s role in New Orleans reform and to discuss educational policy and share research with attendees and to gauge their perspectives on a variety of issues as being experienced in New Orleans.

I have gathered together selected tweets, Facebook posts and Youtube videos etc to Storify and summarize the important perspective shared about a decade of “school reform” in New Orleans. I hope you enjoy. Click here for the Storify. It’s worth the click.

storifyWhat is Storify? It “helps making sense of what people post on social media.” Users curate voices and turn them into stories.

Please Facebook Like, Tweet, etc below and/or reblog to share this discussion with others.

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Twitter: @ProfessorJVH

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A few photos from the French Quarter.


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  • Julian, they spelled your name incorrectly on your tag at the conference!


  • Excellent reply to this post, Monty, with an important question re the variables related. When I click on your name, it leads me to John Muir Geological. I know you (virtually) and much of your research. I also respect what you do and have done. You always trace backward and forward. Keep on commenting!


  • Great response, Monty. When I click on your name, it leads me to john Muir Geological. Why is that? I know you.


    • I’ve left “official” Alternative Education with the MCUSD. I’m now teaching in what’s called a “Necessary Small School” (rural) in Coulterville, CA. I teach where John Muir made his first walk to the Sierra in 1868, wrote journals, collected samples, etc., that led to his famous prose, Later in life, his visit and camping trip with Teddy Roosevelt, made for the creation of the National Park System – of which he’s considered to be its founder in many ways. We have one of three Muir Centers in CA, the others are at the University of the Pacific – research center, and Muir Center in Martinez where he married and settled and wrote his books. Martinez is a National Historic site run by the National Park Service. I’ve been honored to serve as President of the Muir Center in Coulterville where we aspire to create a youth education program to combat “Nature Deficit Disorder” … to get kids back outside and playing again. Yes, I remember you from Common Core Discussions on Linked-In. Best, Monty


  • This is written from the position of someone who worked in and with the New Orleans public schools for over 30 years, – Pre- Hurricane Katrina.

    In the 90s and up until Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was one of the urban poster children of what has since been designated the “school-to-jail-pipeline.’ While not using the term at that time, I effectively researched this phenomenon with dissertation research competed at the University of New Orleans in 2001, titled: “School-wide discipline in urban high schools: Perceptions of violence prevention strategies.”

    I examined the attitudes of students, teachers and administrators with respect to discipline strategies such as the use of: security officers, metal detectors and zero tolerance administrative policies, and statistically found significant differences between teachers and administrators and students and all adults about the effectiveness of those stategies in creating a culture of learning and in creating a culture of fairness.

    Thus, my final concluding statement, in 2001, was: #4. “From a critical or evaluative perspective, research is needed to understand the organizational changes and dynamics occurring in many urban school districts with law enforcement entities now having “jurisdiction” in areas previously reserved to school administrators.

    I suppose it’s a good thing that former President Clinton has acknowledged going the wrong direction with measures that caused mass prison incarceration since the 90s. Included was with the billions of dollars spent on (SDFS) Safe and Drug Free Schools programs. Since the advent of SDFS programs, a shift occurred in how students with discipline issues are treated something I later researched in the context of rural California Alternative schools. In 2001, I called it a “criminal justice model of discipline” that has become called the “school-to-jail-pipeline.” Violence prevention and discrimination based on irrational fear is the context of Zero Tolerance type policies it seems to me is some of what motivated the new policies in New Orleans schools toward choice after Hurricane Katrina.

    I’d be curious to know if factors related to the separate realities about fear of violence and as attributed to race and perceptions of violence in schools was part of the discussion?

    Note: In my article, “Searching for Social Justice in the San Joaquin Valley of CA” I examined from a critical perspective both zero tolerance and the “school-to-jail-pipeline.” In that 2012 research, after years working as an Alternative School(s) administrator, I found the same lack of congruence between teachers and administrators beliefs as to the efficacy of Zero Tolerance policies as had been found statistically in N.O. a decade earlier.


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