It doesn't take much to convince people that New Orleans is different from other cities. As the actor and part-time New Orleans resident, Matthew McConaughey, put it so eloquently, New Orleans is a "big, beautiful mess." But does any of that matter for the school reforms?

Last week was a time to reflect on the terrible tragedy in New Orleans 10 years ago. In the last blog, I asked that we all take a day or two to remember that tragedy and to take a break from the school reform debate. But now we need to get back to that important debate.

This is a blog about the New Orleans school reforms, especially about their effects on students' schooling outcomes and educator practices, but today we need a different conversation.

Era-New Orleans hosted The Urban Education Future? conference this past June, and videos from each of the sessions are now being released. Here is what has been released so far, and what to watch for in the near future.

Building an evidence-based conversation will allow us to find and act on the common ground that does exist in the school reform debate.

In 2005, as New Orleans began to rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the Orleans Parish School Board made an unprecedented move and fired all the teachers who had been in the school system before the storm. As schools rebuilt, most were transformed into independently managed charter schools. Many critics argue that pre-Katrina teachers were unfairly terminated, and that the teacher workforce suffered a loss of experienced teachers who were never rehired.

In the last post, I wrote about how parents' perceptions of choice might be influenced by the options available to them and, how, even in a place like New Orleans where there seems to be ample choice, parents sometimes don't feel that way. Here, I talk about a related issue--choice within schools versus between them.

The idea that families should have more school choice has been one of the major themes of school reform over the past two decades. The expansion of charter schools, home schooling, and vouchers has been rapid and has changed the schooling landscape.

In a paper we released last week, researcher Huriya Jabbar examined how school competition, generated by choice, drove principals to tailor school curricula and admissions processes.

Welcome to the new blog, Urban Education: Lessons from New Orleans. The premise for the blog is simple: The school reforms put in place in New Orleans after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina--nearly 10 years ago--represent one of the most important events in U.S. K-12 education policy in the last century.


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