Education in New Orleans is not known for its high level of quality. In fact, for years, failure has been the norm in this city, and Hurricane Katrina did nothing to help this. Parents, educators, and others who care about the future of the city’s children and the outlook for the city as a whole need to do something about the problem, and they need to do so quickly.
Failure Cannot Pass
Prior to Hurricane Katrina, over 60 percent of all students receiving an education in New Orleans were attending a failing school. That staggering statistic shows why so many students dropped out of school instead of completing the program and earning a degree. Parents now feel that this situation has gone on long enough. They feel that all students, whether they attend charter schools or traditional schools, deserve the chance to have a quality education in a high-performing school.
Of course, changing from failures to success will not happen overnight. The first step is holding all city schools to high performance standards, and holding the leadership accountable if they do not bring forth continuous improvement.
It takes money to provide the education New Orleans school children need. That money needs to be sufficient for the need and needs to be allocated properly. Students should be funded no matter what their needs may be and what school they may be attending. It is unfair for a school to receive less money for a student simply because it is a failing school. That student has not been given just treatment.
To accomplish this, schools need to be funded based on their enrollment. This in turn will cause the most successful schools to have more money, because school choice will allow parents to select that school. However, each individual student should be funded the same amount. Schools and their leadership should then operate within a budget, not spending more than the funding they receive through state funding and any grants.
One positive in the world of education in New Orleans is the fact that parents and students have the ability to choose their own schools. Schools are not assigned arbitrarily. This creates healthy competition and should fuel a desire to put forth a quality product. Schools should continue to offer this option in order for parents to be in control of their children’s educational endeavors.
Of course, in order for school choice to succeed, parents need a way to get their children to the school they choose, even if it is a distance away. To make this possible, schools need to provide parents and students with workable transportation options.
Education in New Orleans may be problematic, but it is not a problem that cannot be fixed. If administrators, teachers, other school personnel, parents, and students learn to work together, these schools can succeed and start producing a quality educational product that makes the rest of the country stand up and take notice.