Sometimes tragedy can open the door for opportunity and that’s just what’s happened in New Orleans since the flooding from Hurricane Katrina. What was once an embarrassing failure for public education, a school system rampant with outright corruption and total incompetence, has now become a national model for education reform.
Fresh Start in the Big Easy: The New New Orleans Public Schools – Video
The key has been the charter schools which give conscientious educators the ability to compete in the marketplace.
Some folks around the country, usually those in the firmly entrenched teacher’s union which deserves most of the blame for our current national educational crisis, like to make and example of failing charter schools as proof that charters don’t work. What happens when a conventional public school fails? It stays open. What happens when a charter school fails? It closes. This happens when any business fails, which means this alternative school system really works.
Free Enterprise, the digital platform for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has recognized this recent innovation of charter schools in the New Orleans public school system. In fact, New Orleans has become the model for public school reform around the country.
The charter system has meant greater autonomy and flexibility for schools. “It gives me such pride because I know that as a community we are running this school,” said Sharon Clark, charter director of the Sophie B. Wright Charter School. “We’re not waiting on bureaucracy in the district just to alter the type of textbooks or workbooks or the clubs that we want to have—that’s a great feeling as an educator.”
And as the article points out the rise in charter school has also spawned the rise in entrepreneurship.
As New Orleans made massive improvements to its education rankings, it was also growing in its level of entrepreneurial activity—some 40% above the national average in 2011, according to Brookings. Tim Williamson, co-founder and CEO of startup accelerator The Idea Village, said, “When Katrina hit, New Orleans became a startup city. Everyone was an entrepreneur overnight because we all had to rebuild houses, neighborhoods, networks—with limited resources.”
Consequently New Orleans has been recognized nationally as the best place in the country to start a business. Wow. Pretty amazing after so many knuckle-headed, idiotic, cock-eyed, so-called national pundits and politicians had written New Orleans off as an irredeemable, total disaster.
I guess we showed them.