Planetizen - Urban Planning News, Jobs, and Education

Hard to Get to Class in Charter-Only New Orleans

In a district now comprised entirely of charter schools, many New Orleans children face hour-plus journeys. This makes for increased stress on low-income families and a potential rise in chronic absenteeism.
March 31, 2015, 9am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email Comments
School bus with stop sign
Gerry Dincher

Kyle Berlin reports on a troubling phenomenon: New Orleans kids are finding it difficult to physically get to school. An experimental policy shift may be to blame: "Last year, New Orleans became home to the first school district in the nation made up entirely of charter schools. The effects of this transformation have been dramatic, complex, and heavily debated, but one of the more straightforward consequences is that kids simply travel much farther than they once did to get to school."

Longer journeys increase the chances a child won't make it to school at all: "[...] chronic absenteeism, defined as missing 10 percent or more of school each year. The chronic absenteeism rate among students from pre-kindergarten to fourth grade in New Orleans is 16.2 percent."

Parent Renata Jones recounts schools knit tighter with the community, both in terms of distance and involvement. "Back then, Habans [a local public elementary school] 'was totally different,' Jones says. 'The parents were more involved. The teachers were more involved.' It was a solid school that was close to home. Jones, who grew up in the same house where she lives now, walked there in the mornings with her grandfather."

Full Story:
Published on Wednesday, March 4, 2015 in Pacific Standard
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email