Viewed before Hurricane Katrina as an institutional disaster, New Orleans' public schools got a second shot at success as a result of the devastation. City planners ran with the opportunity, deciding not just to rebuild schools, but to implement a bold experiment in public schooling. A full 60% of the city's reopened schools are now independently-run charter schools. On November 24, NOW looks at the challenges, successes, and implications of one of these schools, Lafayette Academy, through the tragedy-tested eyes of individual students, faculty, and parents.
"I am convinced that this is all going to be the basis for the rebuilding process in New Orleans," Lafayette Academy Principal Eileen Williams tells NOW. "I'm a firm believer that if we're going to do away with poverty in this country and do things that are right, we've got to begin with educating our youth."
Starting this Friday, the NOW website will present a web-exclusive video report of life at Lafayette through the experiences of a second-grader, as well as personal perspective from one of the show's producers and an overview of charter schools in America.
On a related note, California's public schools have dropped from being in the top 3 during the 70's to #48 in the nation. Charter schools are one of the innovative ways that residents here are trying to improve the level of education--my kids go to a charter school and my experience with them leads me to believe that this may be the silver lining in the clouds from the devastation of Katrina.