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Era New Orleans draws attention from local media

December 17, 2014

Organization receives $3.5 million grant from Tulane University.

Tulane University has announced a comprehensive study on public education reform that’s taken hold in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The plan is to share what has been learned in the radically overhauled school system.

The Tulane group is called the Education Research Alliance of New Orleans. And it has got $3.5 million and 12 staffers to dissect what has happened in city public schools since the storm.

Independent charter schools are abundant, giving families more choices. The teaching staff has been overhauled. Test scores are up. But what does that all really mean?

Tulane University economics professor Douglas Harris is in charge of the research.

“There are other outcomes that we worry about,” he said. “We’re really interested, ultimately, in how students do in the long term, so looking at something like college outcomes is ultimately going to be more persuasive about the effects of the reforms.”

He says his staff is getting help from other researchers across the country.

“I get calls all the time from Washington, D.C., and Detroit and St. Louis and other even smaller cities that are saying ‘We want to do New Orleans,” Harris said. “We want to do what you did. How do we do it? And what’s working and what’s not working?’ And so we owe it, I think, to the city to have a better understanding of what’s going on, but we also now owe it now to the country, and to even other countries that are following what’s going on here.”

The first of several reports will be released in January, focusing on how parents selected a school before and after Katrina.

Support for education reporting on WWNO comes from Baptist Community Ministries and Entergy Corporation.