Poll: Division In New Orleans Over School Governance

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Most people responding to an education think tank's annual poll in New Orleans believe charter schools have improved public education in the city.

         The poll released Tuesday by Tulane University's Cowen Institute shows division over how and when public schools now overseen by the state should return to the oversight of the Orleans Parish School Board. The state took jurisdiction over most New Orleans public schools after Hurricane Katrina.

         The poll was released as state lawmakers are faced with various bills addressing governance of New Orleans schools and the growing reliance on charter schools — public schools run by independent organizations under charters granted by government education authorities.

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         The state's Recovery School District oversees 52 schools, all of them charters; the Orleans Parish School Board oversees 18 charters schools and runs six others itself.

         The Cowen Institute said 38 percent of this year's poll respondents said all Recovery School District schools should be returned to Orleans Parish authority by 2018. Thirteen percent said after 2018 and 32 percent favor the current policy of allowing Recovery School District schools to choose when to return.

         African-Americans were more likely to favor a quicker return than whites: 43 percent of black respondents wanted all schools returned by 2018, compared to 32 percent of whites.

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         The results show majorities of black and white respondents agreeing that charter schools have improved public education in New Orleans. However, a much higher percentage of whites, 72 percent, than blacks, 57 percent responded positively.

         Forty-three percent of respondents said they would give public schools a C grade; 23 percent a B and 3 percent, an A. Seventeen 17 percent would give the schools a D; 5 percent, an F. Ten percent were not sure.

         The live-interview survey of 600 voters was conducted by telephone from March 31 to April 5 by Market Research Insight. The Cowen Institute said the margin for error was plus or minus 4 percent.

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         Also Tuesday, Tulane's Education Research Alliance for New Orleans released a study on the variety of choices parents have among New Orleans schools. It found that public elementary and high schools in the city can be grouped into 10 different categories, based on factors such as the number of hours in the school day or the schools' overall missions and themes.

         – by AP Reporter Kevin McGill



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