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Reason Foundation

New Orleans is Already Demonstrating What will be Possible When We Open Up School Markets

Lisa Snell
April 19, 2012, 1:44pm

As Fast Company reports not only is New Orleans the most market-oriented education system in the United States but it is becoming an open-source platform to test and nurture new innovative education ideas from teachers that are attracting large investments from venture capitalists.

"If you're an edtech entrepreneur who wants to pilot an idea, you have the most efficient and smartest market in the country here," says Matt Candler, CEO of 4.0 Schools. That's because instead of a centralized bureaucracy, there are more than 40 schools making independent decisions on both hiring and procurement. Organizations like KIPP, Teach for America, and the Gates Foundation have established beachheads, drawing top teachers and fresh blood from all over the country. These are intersecting with a nascent startup scene dubbed "Silicon Bayou" to produce a hothouse of ideas to change education: for-profit and nonprofit, from school redesigns to apps, often from younger, female entrepreneurs.

This is why Neerav Kingsland the chief strategy officer of New Schools for New Orleans has the most important message ever for everyone who works in the public school system. In "An Open Letter to Urban Superintendents in the United States of America" he writes:

In the following letter I aim to convince you of this: the single most important reform strategy you can undertake is to increase charter school quality and market share in your city--with the ultimate aim of turning your district into a charter school district.

In other words: rid yourself of the notion that your current opinions on curriculum, teacher evaluation, technology, or anything else will be the foundation for dramatic gains in student achievement. If history tells us anything, they will not be.

Read the whole thing to learn so much more about why we should be replicating New Orleans in cities across America.


Lisa Snell is Director of Education


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