Why Does New Orleans Have Charter Schools?

In 2004, the state of Louisiana took over almost all of the city's schools in New Orleans and began handing them over to independent groups, such as single-school charter schools and mostly local charter school management organizations (CMOs). This was done in an effort to improve the academic performance of the underfunded public schools. After thirteen years, the Orleans Parish School Board has now taken control as the regulatory body of all public schools in the city, reunifying the district and prompting intense reflection on the effects of this ambitious school reform effort. Joe Bouie recently wrote a letter to education advocates and community leaders entitled “A Moral Imperative and Arguments for Action”, in which he criticized the New Orleans Public School System.

He proposed specific measures for charter schools that operate only in New Orleans, such as temporarily stopping the issuance of new charter contracts in the city, replacing the current admission system with an application process, re-including neighborhood public schools under the control of the Orleans Parish School Board, and imposing review requirements on contract renewals so that only charters with proven success remain in operation. The Greater New Orleans Charter School Collaboration (GNOCCS) is a community-based network of public charter schools that is dedicated to rebuilding and revitalizing the metropolitan area through quality education and parental choice. It does not discriminate in terms of services or employment based on race, color, religion, sex, gender, age, national origin, disability, veteran status, or any other protected reason. Like all public schools, New Orleans charter schools receive public funding per student and tuition is free.

The two most significant differences between charter public schools and traditional public schools in New Orleans are autonomy and responsibility. In New Orleans, public charter schools operate under a contract issued by either the state's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) or the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB).

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