School Choice Saves Education in New Orleans

Just over five years ago, New Orleans was devastated by Katrina, but the city’s education system was in shambles long before the storm. Today, New Orleans has witnessed a dramatic improvement in the academic achievement of students, thanks to school choice.

Citywide, the number of fourth-grade students who pass the state’s standardized tests has jumped by almost a third—to 65% in 2010 from 49% in 2007. The passage rate among eighth-graders during the same period has improved at a similar clip, to 58% from 44%.

In 2008, the state of Louisiana passed a voucher program for students attending failing schools. Unlike Pennsylvania, Louisiana gave charter schools equitable funding and resources compared to traditional public schools, however, the standards for charters are very high — only 6 of 44 applicants were approved the year after Katrina. Today, about 70% of students in New Orleans attend charter schools. Reason TV has more on this remarkable transformation: