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New book looks at progress of education system in New Orleans since Katrina

Loyola press release - June 30, 2015

A new book by faculty and staff at Loyola University New Orleans and the University of New Orleans examines the implications of the post-Katrina public education reform in New Orleans, which continues to garner substantial local, national and international attention.

Co-edited by Luis Mirón, Ph.D., director of Loyola’s Institute for Quality and Equity in Education; Joseph Boselovic, associate director of IQEE; and Brian Beabout, Ph.D., associate professor of education at UNO, “Only in New Orleans: School Choice and Equity Post-Hurricane Katrina,” is a collection of research articles, essays and journalistic accounts of education reform in New Orleans. Contributors include Loyola assistant professor of sociology Carol Ann MacGregor, Ph.D., as well as Loyola students Max Ciolino ‘11, Brian Fitzpatrick ‘14 and Kelly Frazier ‘10.

“I am very proud of this book for several reasons. First, I believe the book is unique in that it not only provides a comprehensive analysis of school choice and equity, both major education policy issues, but the analysis is ‘situated’ in a broader social context that tells a unique New Orleans story, hence the title,” Mirón said.

“Second, ‘Only in New Orleans’ also illustrates how engaged research and scholarship benefit Loyola by helping train future scholars and policy makers, as well as putting the social justice issue of equity front and center in keeping with our Jesuit values.”

Rather than trying to provide a single, unified account of education reform in New Orleans, the chapters in “Only in New Orleans” provide multiple ways of approaching some of the most significant questions around school choice and educational equity that have arisen in the years since Katrina. Advocates and critics alike have continued to cite test scores, new school providers and different theories of governance in making multiple arguments for and against how contemporary education policy is shaping public education and its role in the rebuilding of the city.

“While many reform critics have described the post-2005 reforms as led by out-of-state people and foundations, the narratives we’ve collected show the multiple ways in which New Orleanians are active participants in our reform, whether as observers, school leaders, teachers, parents or students,” Beabout said.

“Only in New Orleans” collectively argues that the extreme makeover of the city’s public schools toward a new market-based model was shaped by many local, historically specific conditions. In consequence, while the city’s schools have been both heralded as a model for other cities and derided as a lesson in the limits of market-based reform, the experience of education reform that has taken place in the city — and its impacts on the lives of students, families and educators — could have happened only in New Orleans.

“Only in New Orleans” is published by Sense Publishers and is available now.

Book cover photo by Harold Baquet.