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Week of 6.22.07

The Report Card & Lending a Hand

When New Orleans' failing public school system got washed away with the flood waters, the city embarked upon an ambitious and controversial overhaul with an emphasis on charter schools. Charter schools are publicly funded but independently managed schools that proponents hail for innovation, and opponents argue have not yet proven themselves.

This week NOW returns to Lafayette Academy, a charter school where students and teachers have struggled in the past school year with mismanagement and a lack of resources. NOW also visits the fifth graders at KIPP Believe College Prep, part of a successful national charter school network called the "Knowledge Is Power Program."

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"I think the great thing about being a charter school in New Orleans right now is that we have the autonomy and the power to create the school that we want to create," KIPP School Director Adam Meinig tells NOW's David Brancaccio.

A Statement from Mosaica Education

Mosaica Education denies the allegations made by certain board members of the Lafayette Academy in New Orleans. The company has responded to the allegations in the pending arbitration proceedings, and it believes that its position -- that it has fulfilled its obligations under its agreement with the Lafayette Board -- will be upheld by a neutral arbitrator or court.

Key Facts: Schools in New Orleans

• 64,000 students were displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

• Prior to Katrina, New Orleans public schools were amongst the lowest performers in U.S.

• 57% of New Orleans students are now in charter schools.

• The school system will be short 375 teachers for next academic year.

• 54% of students have symptoms that require further mental health care.

Taken from The State of Public Education in New Orleans [pdf]
Despite the documented challenges to opening a new school in post-Katrina New Orleans, Lafayette Academy students received a quality education in the first year of operations, and the foundation has been laid for even better results in future years -- as demonstrated by the fact that nearly every student at the school has re-enrolled for next year.

Related Links

NOW: Learn More about Charter Schools

NOW: Live and Learn

NOW: Katrina Coverage

The State of Public Education in New Orleans [pdf]

Kipp Believe College Prep

Lafayette Academy

New York Times: Congressman's Brother Is Said to Have Bribed School Official

Topic Search: Education

Enterprising Ideas: Lending a Hand
» video link above

car door handle As part our ongoing "Enterprising Ideas" series, we profile Bonnie CLAC, a non-profit that helps people with lower incomes buy affordable and environmentally friendly cars. Through the clever efforts of Robert Chambers, a 62-year-old former software entrepreneur, Bonnie CLAC saves its low income clients thousands of dollars on auto purchases. Learn how you can help with the links below.

Read how age might be less of a barrier to making social change than you think: NOW Enterprising Ideas Blog "Encore Careers: Or a Worthy Life Begins at 60"

Related Links

Bonnie CLAC

Bonnie CLAC: Donate A Car

Topic Search: Business/Ethics, Society/Community