According to The Hechinger Report, after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans teachers were dismissed by the thousands, and the Louisiana Legislature voted to turn over the schools to a state-run Recovery School District. The Recovery District converted all of the schools to public charter schools. This decision altered how the schools were operated, and changed the dynamics of a profession that catapulted black New Orleanians into the middle class. According to a study from the Education Research Alliance at Tulane University, half of the teachers fired never worked in Louisiana public schools again.
Before Katrina New Orleans schools teacher’s were 71 percent black and 78 percent were women. Since Katrina, the workforce has changed drastically with black teachers making up less than half of the city’s educators. Pre-Katrina, the city’s average teacher, had 15 years of classroom experience. Since the Hurricane the teachers have less than five years of experience.
The study shows how teacher’s employment records fared after the Charter Schools took over. In 2007 the second year after Katrina teachers started leaving the city’s schools in large numbers.
“Some of that could be teachers retiring, but it could also be that even if they got hired, they might not have been the kinds of teachers the charters wanted,” said Lincove. “Veteran teachers get paid more; they might have been cut to help schools meet their budgets. We don’t know if a teacher left a school voluntarily or because they were forced out, but what we do know is that when exiting teachers were replaced they were replaced with teachers who were paid less, had less experience, and were more likely to be white and from out of state.”