“Reform” makes broken New Orleans schools worse: Race, charters, testing and the real story of education after Katrina | Salon

Here is all you need to know about the New Orleans schools before Hurricane Katrina hit, 10 years ago this summer: They were awful. The schools were awful, the school board was awful, the central office was awful—all of them were awful. At a recent conference held to tout the progress made by the schools here since Katrina, Scott Cowan, an early proponent of the all-charter-school model that exists here now, described New Orleans’ pre-storm schools as mired in “unprecedented dysfunction.” In other words, they were awful.


The problem with a story like this isn’t just that it leaves out anything that doesn’t fit but that it can be hard to contain once it gets going. Before long, this “awfulizing narrative,” as it was described to me more than once during the 10 days I recently spent in New Orleans, spread past the school yards and central offices, sweeping up in its wake parents, children, indeed the whole hot mess that is New Orleans.

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