Before Hurricane Katrina the New Orleans school system was one of the worst in the country. It was a travesty that a large percentage of students graduated high school who could barely read, write or do simple math. Tens of millions of dollars that were supposed to go to these failing schools were pocketed by corrupt school board members and teachers who were no longer working were still collecting paychecks. Millions upon millions of dollars simple disappeared.
New Orleans School System is Set to Become All Charter Schools – Video
In this video from PBS special education correspondent John Merrow and Sarah Carr, author of “Hope Against Hope,” join Jeffrey Brown to discuss the transition and its national implications.
Before the hurricane the scene at New Orleans school board meetings that were anything but peaceful, the teachers’ union wanted more and more control and more and more money all the while proclaiming “it’s for the children.” That was their always ongoing and tired mantra “We’re doing all this for the kids.” Nothing could have been further from the truth.
The system was terrible, rampant with terrible and unqualified teachers and several generations of kids were lost to bad education. Is it any wonder why crime was so rampant in the city? What kind of future could these poorly educated kids expect? How could they possibly get decent jobs if they could barely read or write? It was a terrible shame really.
Before the hurricane I was thinking that the only way the school system could be changed was if a bomb were to be dropped on the school board and leaders of the teachers’ union and obliterated the whole thing. Well, that’s exactly what happened with Katrina.
And that hurricane did the city the biggest favor when it comes to giving our kids a decent education. The state came in and took over failing schools, which were most of them, and let them be run by charter groups. Some charters succeeded and others failed, which is perfectly normal if schools are allowed to compete with each other.
Is it perfect? No, but it’s a positive step in the right direction to give our kids the decent future they deserve. Now our kids are getting better educated and New Orleans schools have become a model for quality education in the country.