The "official" Hurricane Katrina bus tour is a big tourist attraction in New Orleans. But another kind of storm tour recently took off — more of a Katrina "reality" tour, documenting the last decade of the New Orleans school system.

This week is filled with events marking the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Among them: a conference on the current state of Black New Orleans.

The three-day conference — hosted by the Urban League — kicked off with a town hall and panels focused on education.

It's back to school season. And in New Orleans, it truly is a season — spanning late July to late August. The city has many school start dates and calendars.

Mallory Falk / WWNO

School is back in session. And there's a new option for students with severe mental and behavioral health needs: the New Orleans Therapeutic Day Program. The program recently held a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Paul Boger / Southern Education Desk

States across the US have increasingly been turning to charter schools in an effort to bolster struggling public school systems. Two of the most recent states to adopt the controversial form of education are Mississippi and Alabama. As part of the Southern Education Desk's series examining charter schools in the South, MPB's Paul Boger reports on how those states are adapting to the alternative form of public education. 

Andre Natta / Southern Education Desk

Florida has about 650 charter schools. They're part of school districts but are privately managed and largely free of many of the rules governing traditional public schools. But as enrollment in charters has increased, so has the financial cost.

WFSU's Lynn Hatter reports for the Southern Education Desk that Tennessee and Georgia are also struggling to find ways to support their charter schools.

Amy Jeffries / Southern Education Desk

The big push for charter schools in Louisiana started after Hurricane Katrina. The state's Recovery School District took over most of the public schools in New Orleans, and quickly issued charters.

With charter school enrollment up to nearly 3 million nationwide last year, Louisiana was still among the states adding the most students.

Mallory Falk / WWNO

Charter schools are changing American education. Some say for the better, some say for the worse. This week the Southern Education Desk looks at the charter school movement throughout the south: the similarities and differences between states, and a glimpse at what's ahead. The series starts in New Orleans, the testing ground for the charter movement. Nearly all the city's public schools have been converted into charters: publicly funded, but privately run. Since then, a major lesson has emerged.

On Sept. 15, 2005, two weeks after Katrina and the levee breaches, I drove with my parents into New Orleans. It was my 25th birthday.

We used my press pass from The Village Voice to get past a military checkpoint so we could assess the damage to their home near Tulane University. It turned out to be minimal: a few slate tiles off the roof, tree limbs downed, a putrid refrigerator full of rotting food to drag to the curb.

Student performance has improved in the years since Hurricane Katrina, according to researchers at Tulane University. The Education Research Alliance released new findings on Tuesday.

The report looks at student performance on state tests. It finds a typical student's scores rose 8 to 15 points.