About the Author
Douglas N. Harris is professor and chair of the Department of Economics and the Schlieder Foundation Chair in Public Education at Tulane University. He is also the founding director of the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans, founding director of the National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice, and a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
“Anyone interested in diving more deeply into the current school debates without the noise from overheated political rhetoric will find Charter School City an excellent starting point.”
— Washington Independent Review of Books
“The schools in New Orleans have gotten better faster than perhaps any other district in the country. To see this progress, in the wake of the trauma and devastation from Hurricane Katrina, is just awe-inspiring. In this ground-breaking book, Harris provides a full and careful picture of how the community did it and what others can learn from it. New Orleans shows us what’s possible, and it gives all of us reason for hope.”
— Arne Duncan, managing partner, Emerson Collective and former US Secretary of Education
"Harris has penned the authoritative take on the grand educational experiment of post-Katrina New Orleans. Combining rigorous research with a firm grasp of on-the-ground developments, he explains the educational outcomes and explores what they mean for school improvement writ large. He has delivered an invaluable resource for everyone concerned with the practice and the politics of urban school reform."
— Frederick Hess, Director of Education Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute
“New Orleans has radically restructured its schools and replaced it with an essentially all-charter system. A significant number of children are better off as a result. In fact, New Orleans could be viewed as a leading example of what a 21st century School district could be. I applaud their efforts. But, one glaring problem is the impact on the Black community. The firing of school staff wiped out a significant sector of the Black middle class in the majority-Black community. They were replaced by young white people, most of them from outside of New Orleans. So many Black people rightfully felt the reforms were done to them, not with them. In Charter School City, Harris does a great service to the ongoing efforts to reform education in this country by adeptly telling the many sides of this complex story.”
— Howard Fuller, distinguished professor of education and founder/director of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University
“The shift to independent charter schools in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina has come with much hyperbole. Advocates of choice have overhyped the academic results and understated the role of school funding, while skeptics have asserted rising inequities for students and decried the firing of black teachers and their replacement with mostly white, temporary, outsiders. This book not only balances these accounts, but it explains the causes of both triumphs and shortcomings. It overturns many simple interpretations and deepens our understanding of the roles of market competition and government. Other cities considering this type of reform should read it carefully.”
— Henry M. Levin, William Heard Kilpatrick Professor Emeritus of Economics and Education, Teacher’s College, Columbia University
“Hurricane Katrina was one of the most devastating man-made disaster in American history and exposed numerous public policy failures in New Orleans, including in the city’s education system. Charter School City details the post-storm reform efforts and the radical changes that helped prepare students academically. Through interviews and statistical analysis, Harris also helps us see the more important issue—whether the reforms will prepare residents for life.”
— Andre Perry, fellow at the Brookings Institution and former CMO leader in post-Katrina New Orleans.
“Every child should have a chance to attend an excellent public school, regardless of their background or zip code. If you are committed to that goal, as I am, then this book is a must-read. Harris engages readers in the complexities of schooling and provides essential advice on how to get school reform right. The lessons here are not just about New Orleans but about American education as a whole.”
— Gina Raimondo, governor of Rhode Island