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It shouldn’t take a hurricane to create all-choice school districts

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by Jason Russell
Washington Examiner
August 28, 2015

About a decade ago, Louisiana officials decided to take over all but a few of New Orleans public schools in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. From the start, then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, was determined to turn the city into an all-choice school district. Blanco wanted open enrollment across the system, without neighborhood zones, and for government funding to follow students to their school of choice.

From an academic standpoint, the takeover was clearly justified. Two out of every three students attended a failing school. Students struggled to meet college readiness benchmarks on the ACT.

Today, every family has a say in where their child goes to school. Nine out of 10 public school students have chosen a charter school. Students are noticeably outperforming the pre-hurricane results. Only 7 percent of students attend a failing school. Three out of four students graduate, which is right in line with Louisiana’s statewide rate. ACT results are much closer to the state average.

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