A grand experiment in New Orleans

What might happen if a city started its school system over from scratch? That’s not entirely a hypothetical question. New Orleans has offered something of a natural experiment after hurricane Katrina wiped out its schools, and much of everything else. Now, 60 percent of students attend a charter school.

In fact, the whole landscape is changed:  “Even in traditional schools, principals have unusual autonomy over the hiring—and firing—of teachers, since the city’s teachers’ union lost its collective-bargaining rights.”

How has this turned out? Newsweek concludes, “So far, the experiment appears to be working.” The percentage of students attending “failing” schools has been cut in half (though it still remains at a horrific one-third).

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