Recently at Reason.tv: Louisiana Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek on the New Orleans School Choice Revolution

Paul Pastorek has served as the Louisiana State Superintendent of Education since his appointment in 2007, less than two years after Katrina ravaged the region. The storm appeared to be the final blow to an already failing public school system. But then something amazing happened. In the wake of Katrina, reformers like Paul Pastorek decided to seize the opportunity to start fresh with a system based on choice. 

Today, New Orleans has the most market-based school system in the U.S. More than 60% of New Orleans public school students currently attend charter schools, and a new voucher program allows children to attend private schools in and around the city. It's too early to tell if the New Orleans experiment in school choice will succeed over the long term, but the combination of autonomy and accountability has produced impressive results thus far.

Reason.tv's Paul Feine sat down with Paul Pastorek to learn more about the New Orleans school choice revolution during Reason Weekend, an annual conference held by Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes Reason.tv. This year's event took place in New Orleans from April 15-18.

Approximately 8.5 minutes. Produced by Paul Feine; shot by Alex Manning and Dan Hayes; edited by Paul Detrick.

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  • AlmightyJB||

    What a great opportunity for those kids. I hope they give this guy a chance to allow this to work. You can't overturn years of neglect overnight. This could be a great example to other struggling school districts. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, given that the democrats get a lot of their money from the teachers union and a lot of their votes from blacks who are hurt the most by the traditional school system. Who's side will they be on, or will they be able to get the union money and convince black voters that the status quo is a much better choice then actually being given a choice.

  • ||

    I call bullshit! School choice my ass! Hmm... what could have made the schools better, that has nothing to do with competition or pedagogy, I wonder what changed in New Orleans, lets look at some demographic data about New Orleans before and after Katrina. You tell me what this change would do to the schools.

    People enrolled in school before Katrina: 312,899
    People enrolled in school after Katrina: 170,269
    The number of students in metropolitan New Orleans plunged 46 percent.

    Blacks as a share of the metropolitan area before Katrina: 37 percent
    Blacks as a share of the metropolitan area after Katrina: 22 percent
    The white share of the population grew from 59 to 73 percent.

  • AlmightyJB||

    What grade do you teach?

  • ||

    +10,000,000

  • Global Manufacturers||

    Who's side will they be on, or will they be able to get the union money and convince black voters that the status quo is a much better choice then actually being given a choice.

  • Max has made his last post||

    Max|6.24.10 @ 3:29PM|#

    Go suck ron puals dick, morons. You peeple are fucking retarded. I`m done coming to this wingnut sight. this is my last post.

  • ||

    Max accidentally makes a good point. Students in low income families do worse in school and those were disproportionately evicted from New Orleans after Katrina. In New Orleans they happen to be disproportionately black. Anyway, for the measured improvements to be meaningful, it should take that into account if possible. Either way, I'm sure that vouchers and a degree of privatization will help in the long run whatever the performance measures may or may not show now.

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