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New Orleans closes public schools: Charter schools only, urban education study

Having New Orleans close its public schools for good might sound worrisome initially, but the southern city isn’t saying farewell to education whatsoever. Rather, New Orleans’ Recovery School District is becoming a revolutionary area where the last traditional public school settings are coming to an end, to give way to an era of charter schools only. The Niagara Gazette tells more about this trending news story this June 1, 2014, and how this urban education study might actually act as an experiment of sorts for other places around the country thinking about doing away with public schools as well.

New Orleans has closed its public schools for good
Wikimedia Creative Commons

It’s going to be a whole new school year for Louisiana in the fall. As New Orleans closes public schools, they are in fact opening even more charter schools, making their Recovery School District the very first in the entire U.S. nation to ever be completely comprised of only charter schools (these charter schools remain public, however, yet not solely in the traditional sense). This education “experiment” has high hopes, given their relative and increasing success in the region so far.

While it may seem difficult to believe initially, already 20 years have passed since the very first ever public charter school opened its doors to students up in Minnesota. At that time, the new educational setting was seen as a new adventure center testing the waters as well, designed as a “lab” of sorts for students to tackle new ways of learning and instructive improvements before being welcomed or passed over to traditional public schools. A full two decades later, an incredible 42 states back charters as “excellent” alternative forms of education to these conventional forms of education for students of all ages.

The Washington Post shares in their report that just like in the urban setting of the Recovery District in New Orleans, cities seem particularly fond of charter schools as an alternative place of learning. For example, almost half of all students in the District of Columbia attend specially designed public charter schools, though public schools closing still remains scarce. Unfortunately for New Orleans, this transition was less of a choice for them as it was actually a necessity. Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina back in 2005, the traditional system of schools was quite literally washed out as the area had to devise a new way to rebuild the education setting.

According to the press release, this alternative actually turned out to be a blessing in some respects, but a definite challenge in others. The burgeoning formation of a full charter system as New Orleans closed public schools is said to have significantly increased learning among a majority of students (albeit evidenced in test scores, says the source) but brought the negative side effect of increasing overall concerns over racial equality and a loss of community cooperativeness and institutions. Hopefully, this urban study can serve a positive role model to help not only our students in New Orleans to succeed, but possibly others around the U.S. nation as well.

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