Education in New Orleans vs. Education in Detroit

What can Detroit schools learn from New Orleans?

Stephen Henderson talks with Chastity Pratt-Dawsey, reporter at Bridge Magazine, and Danielle Dreilinger, reporter at The Times-Picayune, about the New Orleans and Detroit schools districts.

  • All charter: New Orleans has an all-charter school district.  Dreilinger says that this creates a unique situation because it is a decentralized district. She says people are generally happy with the individual schools their children attend, but the elected school board does not have much power and neighborhood schools may not be as connected to the neighborhoods as they were before. 
  • Instability: Dawsey says one of the major problems in Detroit schools is instability and student transience, because families will move to another school if they do not feel it is working. 
  • Special education: Stephen asks about special education in New Orleans charter schools.  Dreilinger says that it was bad at first, but now there are some good programs and alternative schools for students with special needs. Dawsey says that one in six kids in Detroit Public Schools has special needs, which is unmatched in the country. She says charter schools are public schools, so they should work with any student who comes through the door.
  • K-12 and poverty: Dawsey says that the socioeconomic status of the student body is an indicator of school quality, because families with the resources to do so will send their kids to desirable schools. Dreilinger says that people want K-12 education to fix poverty, and thinks this might be because they do not want to put money into direct anti-poverty measures.
  • Is better enough?: Dreilinger says the question she always has about the progress New Orleans schools have made is “is it enough?”.  She says the schools achievement has improved, but asks, “How long will we have to wait for these schools to get good?”

Click the audio link above to hear the full conversation.