What David Leonhardt Ignores, Denies and Gets Wrong about the 2005 Seizure of New Orleans Schools

Oh that Mayor Landrieu was more concerned NOLA’s schools than its statuary.


The NY Times columnist David Leonhardt reflects anew on the school transformation in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. After a recent visit to New Orleans, Leonhardt extols a New Orleans miracle. Many knowledgeable people have disagreed.  Perhaps Leonhardt’s new column is a case of confirmation bias or maybe just rose colored glasses.

Leonhardt concludes: “(T)he academic progress has been remarkable. Performance on every kind of standardized test has surged… People here point to two main forces driving the progress: Autonomy and accountability. In other school districts, teachers and principals are subject to a thicket of rules, imposed by a central bureaucracy.  In New Orleans, schools have far more control. They decide which extracurriculars to offer and what food to serve. Principals choose their teachers—and can let go of weak ones.  Teachers, working together, often choose their curriculum.” “The charters here educate almost all public-school students, so they can’t…

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