Progression through State Action
Since hurricane Katrina, the State of Louisiana seized the opportunity to intervene and reform public schools. Post- Katrina public schools improved with the State of Louisiana’s involvement using the Recovery School District (“RSD”). RSD is an organization administered by the Department of Education to transform low performing public schools. Public schools were converted into charter schools. This change gave greater power to the state. New changes were implemented, such as a “new curricula, longer school days, even special summer sessions” (Newmark and De Rugy, 2006). These changes salvaged a struggling school system.
In the article, “Hope After Katrina,” the authors claim New Orleans public education would collapse without RSD. In Kevin Mahnken’s article “[i]n the aftermath of Katrina,” he explains how state involvement was essential to improving public education post-Katrina (Mahnken, 2018). In both articles, enhanced public education relied on state involvement.
In “Hope after Katrina” and “In the aftermath of Katrina,” the authors advocate for heavy state involvement because 55 of the 78 worst schools in the nation are located in New Orleans (Newmark and De Rugy, 2006). Reform was needed because New Orleans’ school enrollment rapidly dropped by 26% between 1998 and 2004 (Newmark and De Rugy, 2006). The numbers made it crystal clear that State reform was critical and had to be immediate.
By interviewing locals and Tulane University’s education policy members “education Dream Team,” Louisiana improved New Orleans’ schools (Williams, 2018). Their findings lead to implementing longer school days, stricter curriculum, and summer sessions, closing class, and race disparities (Mahnken, 2018). As a result, experts concluded that students are now more likely to finish high school. Further, “College persistence … grew by seven points, while college graduation shot up five points” (Mahnken, 2018). As a result, the compared numbers pre-Katrina and post-Katrina, confirm how essential it was for the State of Louisiana to step in and reform the New Orleans public schools.