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Featured Policy Brief: "Did the Teachers Dismissed after Hurricane Katrina Return to Public Education?"

May 31, 2017

A study from the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans at Tulane University examines whether the 4,332 teachers dismissed after Hurricane Katrina returned to public school employment in Louisiana. The dismissed cohort included 71% black teachers and 78% female teachers and had more than 15 years of average teaching experience.

The study’s authors find that approximately 50% of these dismissed teachers returned to work in administrative, teaching, or other positions in the state’s publicly funded schools by fall 2007. New Orleans schools re-employed 32% of the cohort, while 18% were re-employed in other Louisiana parishes. By 2013, only 37% of the original pre-Katrina cohort was employed in Louisiana public schools.

Researchers also compared the 2007 employment rate for New Orleans pre-Katrina teachers to teachers with similar characteristics from other parishes that were affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita but did not experience mass dismissal or school reform. “Our best estimate is that the combined effects of dismissal and reform, separate from the hurricane effect, reduced the 2007 education employment of pre-Katrina New Orleans teachers by at least 16 percentage points,” said lead author Jane Arnold Lincove.

“The dismissal of the entire New Orleans public school teacher workforce has had a lasting impact on these teachers, their families, and the community,” said author Nathan Barrett. “This study contributes to the public discourse on New Orleans’ school reforms by helping us understand not only the scale of this dismissal but also the educational employment outcomes of those dismissed.”

The study was authored by Jane Arnold Lincove from the University of Maryland – Baltimore County, Nathan Barrett from Tulane University, and Katharine O. Strunk from the University of Southern California. The Education Research Alliance for New Orleans released a study earlier this month that analyzed changes in New Orleans teachers’ learning and work environments using surveys of teachers from the dismissed cohort who returned to teach in the city’s publicly funded schools.