When Hurricane Katrina touched down in 2005, New Orleans’ schools had long been considered among the worst in the country. With the storm’s devastation came a unique opportunity to start afresh.
The state hired Paul Vallas, veteran superintendent of Philadelphia and Chicago, to turn around the city’s troubled schools. Three years later, Vallas is ready to move on, proudly proclaiming he’s created “a model district.”
The school system is unquestionably transformed. By next year 2/3 of New Orleans public schools will be chartered, the highest percentage in the country. Paid for with public money but permitted to operate with limited government oversight, charters are considered by some to be the best possible solution, and by others an unproven experiment that could leave needy kids behind.
This final report in our 3-year series, turns a critical eye on Paul Vallas’ legacy in New Orleans. What has he done, how is it working, and will his changes last after he’s gone?
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