Better test scores. Charter schools. New teachers. When it comes to highlighting New Orleans’ recovery, the gloss of the city’s overhauled school system shines brightest. So bright, that those who look at New Orleans schools from a distance often fail to see the serious issues of inequity and exclusion that linger within. As soon as Katrina hit, state and education officials used the devastation as an excuse to fire veteran teachers and start the transition to an all charter school system in New Orleans giving tax dollars to private purveyors with no accountability. It's been called a promising model for education but it has been a road map for dismantling public education.

Accountability for what’s happening in New Orleans schools has been sorely lacking. While 92% of students are now enrolled in charters, many charter schools have failed to accommodate students with disabilities or limited English proficiency, violating federal law and prompting civil rights complaints to federal agencies. Making matters worse, students enrolled in New Orleans charters are subject to harsher charter-specific discipline policies aimed at pushing out even more students. Suspension rates at New Orleans charters, especially for out-of-school suspensions, are among some of the worst in the nation, with several schools above Louisiana’s already high statewide average and a select group at “rates of 40, 50, 60% and more each year.” When coupled with school arrests, this denial of equal access to education is something that FFLIC and other grassroots organizations have long spoken out against, especially in comprehensive reports like Pushed Out: Harsh Discipline in Louisiana Schools Denies The Right to Education.

Education policy that relies upon exclusionary enrollment, punitive discipline, and school closures to achieve its results isn’t reform. It’s the school-to-prison pipeline. It’s the dismantling of public education.

Key Recovery Data

7,000 Number of teachers fired after Katrina
15 Estimated number of New Orleans charter schools with suspension rates above the statewide average.
623 The number of indoor suspensions in New Orleans during the 2013-2014 school year, double the pre-Katrina rate.
46,625 The number of out-of-school suspensions in 2013, more than the total number of students enrolled in New Orleans public schools that year.

FIND OUT MORE Civil rights complaint filed against the Louisiana Department of Education, Recovery School District, and Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Filed by Advancement Project on Behalf of the Journey for Justice Alliance)
Reform makes broken New Orleans schools worse: Race, charters, testing, and the real story of education after Katrina (Salon, August 3, 2015)
SPLC IDEA Complaint
VAYLA/AALDEF Language Access Complaint
Dealing with the School-to-Prison-Pipeline (Louisiana Weekly, April 27, 2015)
LDOE Data on NOLA Suspension Rates