A Perfect Storm: The Takeover of New Orleans Public Schools

The Recovery School District: A Brief History

In 2005, before the winds and flood waters of Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana, education policymakers were developing a state takeover plan aimed at turning around five of the city's struggling schools. They dubbed this the Recovery School District plan. In the aftermath of the storm, the reach of the plan was drastically expanded to include over 100 of the state's public schools. Nine years after the implementation of the Recovery School District plan, an overwhelming majority of Louisiana's public schools have been converted into charter schools. Despite initial reports of positive academic results, subsequent research has shown evidence countering the originally touted message of academic success and highlighting the impact on the surrounding community.

“A Perfect Storm: The Takeover of New Orleans Public Schools is a series of short videos that reveal the real story behind the creation of the nation’s first all charter school district."  -Phoebe Ferguson, Film Director

A Perfect Storm Episode 1: 17 Days in November

The first Perfect Storm video, 17 Days in November, focuses on the illegal takeover and the academic failure of the state run Recovery School District.

A Perfect Storm Episode 2: The Illusion of Choice

Part 2, The Illusion of Choice, explores the reality of an all charter district, where parents no longer have neighborhood schools. The film features interviews with community members and leaders in the New Orleans education community who were faced with the daunting task of re-opening schools immediately following Hurricane Katrina.

A Perfect Storm Episode 3: Disenfranchised Communities

Disenfranchised Communities is the third in the series and displays how privatizing public education has disenfranchised the New Orleans community by limiting the voices of parents and community members. The film touches on the school employees who were released from their positions, causing the loss of thousands of middle-class jobs, and the efforts by neighborhood schools to write their own charter applications, which were denied. This model of disenfranchising communities is being exported to other cities around the country.

SEF in partnership with the New Orleans Education Equity Roundtable hopes that all viewers will find these videos helpful as they join in honest storytelling about the state takeover of the New Orleans public schools. 

We encourage the use of these videos at town hall meetings to advocate for a return of our schools back to local, democratically elected control. Collectively, we can all stop the exporting of this model and play a role in strengthening our schools in a way that serves students and the community at-large.

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