New Orleans parents need more help choosing a public school, report says

Danielle Dreilinger:

New Orleans public school parents are happy with their children’s schools and tend to think the system is headed in the right direction, but need more good options and more information.

That’s according to a December report on school choice from the Center on Reinventing Public Education that gathered the feelings of 4,000 parents and guardians in New Orleans and seven other cities, including Detroit, Mich., and Washington, D.C.

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, New Orleans abolished default neighborhood school assignments. Now, every family chooses a school, and it can get complicated. Adding to the challenge, there is no central administration: the system is decentralized, with both state and local administrations overseeing mostly independent charter schools.

The report praises the city’s efforts to make school choice easier for parents. New Orleans was the only city that has made “significant” investments in parent information, enrollment and transportation, the report said. For instance, several organizations issue guides to schools that include test scores, lists of extracurricular activities and the like.