The goal of this project is to provide school news to students, parents and others who are invested and interested in charter schools in New Orleans. We hope that you will use our information to become better informed and get more involved.
After all, these are public schools, your tax dollars pay for them, and you deserve to know what’s happening.
But staying informed hasn’t been easy.
The explosion in the number of charter schools has changed things for everyone involved — including the news media. One reporter used to cover a single school board to report on citywide education policy. Now, 45 boards run 65 charter schools. That’s in addition to the Orleans Parish School Board and the Recovery School District, which run more than 20 schools combined.
Until now, no news outlet has had the resources to cover each board’s monthly meeting. We aim to change that.
We hired a corps of community members to attend these meetings, more than 500 in one year. These reporters also will attend some of the board’s committee meetings, if they look newsworthy. For instance, if a school is looking to hire a new principal, we might attend the meeting of the committee that’s writing the job description and interviewing the candidates.
We created a Web page for each school board. Not only will our stories appear on these pages, but we’ll also provide the meeting agendas in advance so parents and others can decide whether they want to attend and make their voices heard on a particular matter.
We will also provide readers with key documents regarding the schools, such as the student handbook and the school board’s charter contract. Documents provided to reporters at board meetings will, in turn, be provided to our readers.
We know people don’t have time to check our site everyday, so in the coming months, we’ll offer readers a chance to sign up to get an email whenever something new is posted about a particular school.
The public educational landscape has gotten much more fractured and complicated since Hurricane Katrina. But it hasn’t gotten less important.
No city has a greater percentage of public-school students at charter schools. Likewise, no newsroom has undertaken an effort like this. We’ll be learning things as we go, and we want you to help. Please don’t hesitate to offer compliments, suggestions, criticisms and complaints. Based on our readership so far, we know that won’t be a problem.
As always, we’ll do our best to respond and deliver the coverage you deserve.