Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs


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La Follette Seminar: Charter School City: What the New Orleans School Reforms Teach Us about Government, Markets, and the Future of America's Schools

Wednesday, January 31, 2018, 12:30PM - 1:30PM
Location:  La Follette School Conference Room

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, New Orleans’ public schools experienced an unprecedented reform effort that took the concepts of test-based and market-based accountability to the extreme.

  • Attendance zones were eliminated so that families could choose schools.
  • All teachers were fired.
  • The union contract was allowed to expire.
  • Tenure and certification requirements were eliminated.
  • All schools were turned over to charter organizations operating under performance-based contracts.

Doug Harris, an economist at Tulane University, offers insights into this radical reform.

  • How did it affect students’ test scores, graduation rates, and college outcomes?
  • What parts of the reform package were most influential?
  • What were the intended and unintended effects?
  • What lessons does the New Orleans experience hold for the rest of the country?

Doug Harris, PhD 

Professor, Department of Economics
Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
Director, Education Research Alliance for New Orleans

A former University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty member, Harris is an economist whose research explores how the level and equity of student educational outcomes are influenced by education policies such as desegregation, standards, teacher certification, test-based accountability, school choice, privatization, and school finance.

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