|Orleans Parish School Board|
|3520 General De Gaulle Drive
New Orleans, LA 70114
|Motto||Our job is building for the future|
|Grades||PK - 12|
|President||Seth J. Bloom|
|Students and staff|
|Students||approximately 15,500 (excludes RSD- & BESE-chartered public schools)|
New Orleans Public Schools (NOPS) is the public school system that serves all of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. Schools within the system are governed by a multitude of entities, including the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB), which directly administers 6 schools and has granted charters to another 18, and the Recovery School District of Louisiana (RSD), which no longer directly administers any schools within Orleans Parish. Instead, all public schools operating under the RSD umbrella within Orleans Parish are, as of the Fall of 2014, independent public charter schools. Though the Orleans Parish School Board has retained ownership of all the assets of the New Orleans Public Schools system, including all school buildings, approximately 93% of students attending public schools in Orleans Parish now attend independent public charter schools - the highest percentage in the nation. The headquarters of the OPSB is in the West Bank neighborhood of Algiers, while the RSD's New Orleans office is on Poydras Street in the CBD.
NOPS was wholly controlled by the OPSB before Hurricane Katrina and was the New Orleans area's largest school district before Katrina devastated the city in August 2005, damaging or destroying more than 100 of the district's 128 school buildings. NOPS served approximately 65,000 students pre-Katrina. For decades prior to Hurricane Katrina's landfall, the OPSB-administered system was widely recognized as the lowest performing school district in Louisiana. According to researchers Carl L. Bankston and Stephen J. Caldas, only 12 of the 103 public schools then in operation within the city limits of New Orleans showed reasonably good performance at the beginning of the 21st century.
In Katrina's immediate aftermath, an overwhelmed Orleans Parish School Board asserted that the school system would remain closed indefinitely. The Louisiana Legislature took advantage of this abdication of local leadership and acted swiftly. As a result of legislation passed by the state in November 2005, 102 of the city's worst-performing public schools were transferred to the Recovery School District (RSD), which is operated by the Louisiana Department of Education and was headed for a key period (2008-2011) by noted education leader Paul Vallas. The Recovery School District had been created in 2003 to allow the state to take over failing schools, those that fell into a certain "worst-performing" metric. Five public schools in New Orleans had been transferred to RSD control prior to Katrina.
The NOPS system is currently digesting reforms aimed at decentralizing power away from the pre-Katrina school board central bureaucracy to individual school principals and charter school boards, and at vesting choice in parents of public school students, allowing them to enroll their children in almost any school in the district. Charter school accountability is realized by the granting of renewable operating contracts of varying lengths permitting the closure of those not succeeding. In October 2009, the release of annual school performance scores demonstrated continued growth in the academic performance of New Orleans' public schools. By aggregating the scores of all public schools in New Orleans (OPSB-chartered, RSD-chartered, RSD-administered, etc.) to permit a comparison with pre-Katrina outcomes, a district performance score of 70.6 was derived. This score represented a 6% increase over the equivalent 2008 metric, and a 24% improvement when measured against the equivalent pre-Katrina (2004) metric, when a district score of 56.9 was posted. Notably, the score of 70.6 approached the score (78.4) posted in 2009 by the adjacent, suburban Jefferson Parish public school system, though that system's performance score was itself below the state average of 91.
The current RSD superintendent is Patrick Dobard, while the diminished, OPSB portion of NOPS has been led since 2015 by Henderson Lewis.
The conversion of the majority of New Orleans' public schools to independently administered public charter schools following Hurricane Katrina has been cited by author Naomi Klein in her book The Shock Doctrine as an application of economics shock therapy, and of the tactic of taking advantage of public disorientation following a disaster to effect radical change in public policy.
According to Senate Bill 432, passed by the Louisiana State Legislature on May 10, 2016 and signed into law by Governor of Louisiana John Bel Edwards on May 12, 2016, all public schools in New Orleans will return to supervision by OPSB by July 1, 2018.
A 2009 survey conducted by Tulane University's Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives, which is listed as a "Key Partner" of New Schools for New Orleans, a charter school advocacy group, indicated that the state's takeover of the majority of NOPS and the subsequent spread of independent public charters was viewed with strong approval, by both parents of students and by citizens in general. Specifically, a poll of 347 randomly selected Orleans Parish voters and 300 randomly selected parents of children in the NOPS system indicated that 85% of parents surveyed reported they were able to enroll their children at the school they preferred, and 84% said the enrollment process was easy - findings that surprised the researchers. Furthermore, 82% of parents with children enrolled at public charter schools gave their children's schools an "A" or "B", though only 48% of parents of children enrolled in non-chartered public schools assigned A's or B's to the schools their children attended. According to the survey, clear majorities of parents and of voters overall did not want the Orleans Parish School Board to regain full administrative control of the NOPS system.
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In the mid-1800s the German American community of New Orleans attempted to have the German language supplant French as a subject in school. The German Society made efforts to have German introduced into the school system. In 1910 the German language was added to the NOPS curriculum, making it a regular subject in high schools and, at the elementary school, an afternoon elective. At the time, 10% of high school students selected German. In 1918, because of World War I propaganda, German was discontinued. German was re-introduced in 1931. The Deutsches Haus, the successor to the German society, made efforts to reintroduce German. German was discontinued in 1938 as World War II began.
In the late 1950s, Dorothy Mae Taylor, the president of two chapters of the Parent Teacher Association who in 1971 became the first African-American woman to serve in the Louisiana House of Representatives, organized a march to the school board to demand equal resources for black children in public schools. The board eventually acquiesced, and the parish increased funding to historically black schools to a level comparable to their white counterparts. Then came the national push for desegregation, particularly through the federal courts and later in the U.S. Congress with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Racial barriers were dropped, and a new generation of African American leaders won most of the public offices in Orleans Parish.
Fifty-three public schools opened in New Orleans for the 2006-2007 school year. This number included schools directly administered by the OPSB or the RSD, or schools chartered by the OPSB or the RSD. By November 2006, the system was approaching half of its pre-Katrina enrollment, with 36% of the students enrolled in independent charter schools, 18% in the Algiers Charter School Association charter network, 35% in schools directly administered by the RSD, and 11% in the few remaining schools directly administered by the OPSB. Within fourteen months of Katrina, the majority of students in the NOPS system were, therefore, attending independently administered public charter schools, a condition that has persisted to the present and is cited with approval by national advocates of charter schools.
For the 2013-2014 school year, the Orleans Parish School Board directly administered 4 schools and oversaw the 16 it chartered. The RSD directly administered 15 schools and supervised the 60 it chartered. Additionally, two schools were chartered directly by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE).
For the 2014-2015 school year, all public schools operating under the RSD umbrella within Orleans Parish are independent charter schools.
(Outdated: For the 2014-2015 school year, the RSD directly administers no schools within Orleans Parish.)
The Algiers Charter Schools Association is a system of six charter schools, all RSD affiliates.