School Choice in the Big Easy

Too bad it took a hurricane to offer students real choice over their education and an exit from failing schools in New Orleans. However, every urban district that suffers from years of failure might consider New Orlean’s school restructuring model. Start from scratch and make the schools compete. From the New York Times: More than 40 other public schools are scheduled to open by mid-September for an estimated 30,000 students in what is planned as a rebirth of one of the nation’s worst school systems, which had about 60,000 students before the storm. . . . Understanding who runs each school almost requires a scorecard: A handful remain under the authority of the troubled Orleans Parish School Board. The board has voluntarily allowed some schools to be run as charter schools, which receive public money but operate independently. And it has been relieved of authority over more than 100 schools by the state Department of Education, which is running some of them itself and chartering others. . . . There are no geographic requirements in the revamped system. Any student, living anywhere in the city, can register for any school on a first-come, first-served basis or by lottery, placing schools in competition for students and state funding, which is based on attendance.