Poll in New Orleans shows split over public school governance

Poll in New Orleans shows split over public school governance

38% say state-run schools should return to local control by 2018, but 32% say individual schools should decide if they want to stay under state control.

Public support for charter schools in New Orleans remains high, but opinions are divided on whether schools now overseen by the state should be returned to the control of the Orleans Parish School Board.

An annual poll of New Orleans residents also found that both the Orleans Parish School District and the state-run Recovery School District are capable of managing schools, but they said that if schools in the Recovery District are to be returned to the Orleans Parish district, a transition plan should be in place first.

Most respondents—63 percent—say charter schools have improved education in the city; 23 percent say they have not (14 percent were not sure).

A plurality of respondents said they would give the public schools in New Orleans a grade of “C.”

The findings released Tuesday are contained in a poll conducted by Tulane University’s Cowen Institute of the public’s perception of the education system in New Orleans. The survey has been conducted annually since 2009.

Public schools in New Orleans have struggled for many years, and in the aftermath of the flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the state, through the Recovery District, took over control of nearly all the city’s schools.

A decade later, the Recovery District remains in charge of most schools in New Orleans. Of the 82 public schools in the city, 52 are charter schools overseen by the Recovery District; 24 are overseen by the Orleans Parish district—18 charters and six run directly by the district. The remaining six—five charters and one independent school—are governed by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The 2016 poll found that 38 percent of respondents believed that all Recovery District schools should be returned to the Orleans Parish District by 2018, and 32 percent believed that individual Recovery District schools should decide when and under what circumstance they will return to the local district.

The poll also found that 63 percent of respondents believed that if a school is returned to the Orleans Parish District but is dissatisfied with the district’s oversight, it should be allowed to go back to state oversight.

Asked what grade they would give public schools for their performance, 43 percent of respondents awarded schools a ‘C;” 23 percent gave a “B,” 17 percent gave a “D,” 5 percent gave an “F,” and 3 percent gave an “A” (the remainder were not sure).

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