According to the Post, the Orleans Parish school district fired some 7,000 employees after Katrina, most of them African-American, while the teachers hired for the charters have been much more demographically white, many drawn from Teach for America. The fired teachers have won a judgment for wrongful termination, with expected penalties and compensation to amount to more than $1 billion. Other racial issues have been surfacing, such as a federal civil rights complaint filed recently that New Orleans funneled white students into the better charter schools and shunted black pupils into the worst schools.
Given the pre-Katrina performance of the school system, it would be next to impossible for the new charter schools to have performed worse. Student performance on standardized math and reading has increased from 23 percent in 2007 to 57 percent in 2013 performing at grade level. However, improvements in school performance have been accompanied by massive infusions of federal money aimed at rebuilding the school system after Katrina, supplemented by generous grants from education reform funders like the Walton Family Foundation that perceive New Orleans as a grand and unique experiment for pursuing their agendas.