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New Teachers Learn the Ropes at New Orleans’ Schools

At the start of a new school year in New Orleans, first-time educators are leaning the ropes and working to gain respect from students and fellow teachers. In the latest installment of his reports on school reform in the city, John Merrow examines the challenges new teachers are facing.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Next tonight, fixing New Orleans' public schools, year two. The NewsHour's special correspondent for education, John Merrow, has been chronicling those efforts. And tonight, how rookie teachers are faring in the new school year.

  • JOHN MERROW, NewsHour Correspondent:

    Superintendent Paul Vallas is feeling good. He's beginning his second year leading the Recovery School District, the lowest-performing schools in New Orleans.

    At a rally, he praised his teachers for a year of progress.

  • PAUL VALLAS, Superintendent, Recovery School District:

    You did it. You did it. The increase in academic performance across the board, every grade, virtually every subject. And, you know, high school test scores don't increase anywhere in the country, except in New Orleans. High school teachers, stand up. Take a round of applause.

  • JOHN MERROW:

    Although test scores did go up last year, Vallas has his work cut out for him: 80 percent of students are still below grade level.

  • PAUL VALLAS:

    This is the great experiment here. We are rebuilding a public school system from the ground up.

  • JOHN MERROW:

    In the crowd are veteran teachers and first-time educators from organizations like Teach for America, who are fast-tracked into teaching for a two-year commitment.

  • PAUL VALLAS:

    I need the legends. I need the superstars. There is no greater calling than education, no greater calling.

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