" New Orleans will have only five public schools—those operated by the Orleans Parish School Board. Everything else will be charters. The post-Katrina path to almost 100 percent charter education began with the post-storm shutdown of the city’s struggling public schools and the firing (recently declared illegal) of some 7,500 unionized teachers and other school employees, predominantly African American women. The assault was accelerated by a massive infusion of foundation and entrepreneurial investment in new charter schools, and years of state and federally supported deregulation and privatization."
Today, the New Orleans Parish schools are privatized made up entirely of charter schools, and research about the experiment indicates that students are no better off than when it was operated by the Orleans Parish School Board before Katrina hit in 2005.
In a public school system that enrolled 60,000 students today, it's a mere 33,000 and there are thousands of children never enrolled. And "one 2010 study found 4,000 teens, about 10 percent of the city's student population, not enrolled in school at all."
For example, the Recovery School Districts, a statewide school district set up to turn around schools the state labels failing started before Katrina in 2003, when 107 schools out of 128 were transferred to the RSD. While, the state acquired the buildings, bargaining unit teachers disappeared to be replaced by Teach for America recruits and nearly all the charter schools hired teachers from TFA too. Yet, in "2011, 79 percent of these RSD schools were rated D or F."
Once this happens, it is difficult if not impossible to reinstate schools under democratically elected control through elected school boards.
In an attempt to reclaim schools that were not failing back into democratically elected control through the old Orleans Parish School Board, the court rejected its bid. Although the post Katrina law limited schools under the RSD to five years, in 2010, this was amended to allow each charter the right to decide if they wanted to return to local control and most of course opted not to return.
And children with disabilities were seen as liabilities by the charters that hired inexperienced teachers many of them with limited experience working with special education children such as TFA recruits.
Yet, the 2,500 students awarded vouchers didn't do any better than those in the RSD, while this voucher pilot failed, still it was implemented statewide.
"I tell people that if you believe what has happened in New Orleans is OK—stripping away our right to be self-determined in public education by taking our schools away—are you ready to say that America should not operate on democratic principles? Because that’s where this leads."