NewsHour education correspondent John Merrow explores the pros and cons of charter schools, schools granted independence from local government, in New Orleans, Louisiana.
This report is part of a series about school reform in New Orleans and Washington, D.C., where public schools have not done a good job of educating their students, according to national test results.
Merrow talks to Paul Vallas, superintendent of the Recovery School District, a charter school organization in New Orleans, who tells Merrow that charter schools are allowed to make decisions in the best interest of children.
It is easier for charter schools to fire bad teachers and give bigger rewards to teachers who perform better.
More than half of all public school students in New Orleans attend a charter school, but there are critics. Parent Karran Royal says charter schools discriminate against children with disabilities.
"As principal of a charter school, you are responsible for everything. I make sure instruction is in place, and its effective, and its aligned with the state standards. I make sure that the budget is balanced and that we have money for payroll." - Sharon Clark, principal, Sophie B. Wright School
"The majority of the schools in Orleans Parish are charters, and that trend is going to continue. That percentage of kids being educated in charter schools is going to grow in the coming years." - Paul Vallas, superintendent, Recovery School District
"Parents are seeking places for their children who may have physical handicaps, mental or emotional handicapping conditions, and they're not being accepted by charters. I get referrals from specific principals of charter schools." - Cheryllyn Branch, principal, Benjamin Banneker Elementary
1. What is a charter school?
2. Is your school public, private, charter or something else?
1. Charter schools are growing in popularity, why do you think that is?
2.Why would someone go to a charter school instead of a regular public school?
3. Should it be easier for principals to fire bad teachers? Why or why not? Should teachers get paid more for better performance?
4. What the downsides to charter schools that you saw in this report? Are they serious problems? Why or why not?