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Did the Teachers Dismissed after Hurricane Katrina Return to Public Education?

A policy brief and technical report by Jane Arnold Lincove, Nathan Barrett, and Katharine O. Strunk on how and whether the 4,332 New Orleans public school teachers dismissed after Hurricane Katrina returned to public school employment in Louisiana.

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Did the Teachers Dismissed after Hurricane Katrina Return to Public Education?

by Jane Arnold Lincove, Nathan Barrett, Katharine O. Strunk

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In the after­math of Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na, the Orleans Parish school dis­trict dis­missed all of its employ­ees as the city under­went a tran­si­tion to a char­ter and choice-based sys­tem of char­ter schools. Using state employ­ment files, we exam­ine whether and how these teach­ers returned to pub­lic school employ­ment in Louisiana. Our key find­ings are: Based on admin­is­tra­tive data, the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) dis­missed approx­i­mate­ly 4,300 teach­ers. This cohort of dis­missed teach­ers includ­ed 71% black teach­ers and 78% female teach­ers, and had more than 15 years of aver­age teach­ing expe­ri­ence. Approx­i­mate­ly 50% of the dis­missed teach­ers returned to work in admin­is­tra­tive, teach­ing, or oth­er posi­tions in the state’s pub­licly fund­ed schools by fall 2007. Includ­ed in this num­ber are two groups: 32% who were re-employed in New Orleans schools and 18% who were re-employed in oth­er Louisiana Parish­es. By 2013, these num­bers had dropped sub­stan­tial­ly: 37% of the orig­i­nal pre-Kat­ri­na cohort was employed in Louisiana pub­lic schools, includ­ing 22% employed in New Orleans and 15% in oth­er parish­es. To com­pare our results with a typ­i­cal teacher attri­tion rate, we looked at pre-Kat­ri­na New Orleans teach­ers’ exits rel­a­tive to exits by teach­ers with sim­i­lar char­ac­ter­is­tics in oth­er dis­tricts that also expe­ri­enced hur­ri­cane effects. We esti­mate that teacher exit was 16 – 23 per­cent­age points high­er for the New Orleans teach­ers who were dis­missed rel­a­tive to sim­i­lar non-New Orleans teach­ers in 2007, and 8 – 10 per­cent­age points high­er in 2013.

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