Cherice Harrison-Nelson

After Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, all 7,500 employees of the New Orleans school system were fired. That led to an unprecedented diaspora of schoolteachers. New research suggests that only a small fraction of them continue to teach in the city’s schools today.

Mallory Falk / WWNO

When a school announces it's closing, it doesn't just shut its doors the next day. There's a whole closure process. It's a process Miller McCoy Academy — an all-boys middle and high school — has been following this year. We look inside that process as part of our series "Closing Costs." 

It's a typical weekend morning in the Dean household. 10-year-old William changes out of his pajamas and into his Miller McCoy uniform: white shirt, khaki pants, a blazer and bow tie. He gulps down a bowl of Apple Jacks while his mother Lashunda looks him over.

Mallory Falk / WWNO

Rowan Shafer is a third grade teacher at Morris Jeff Community School. She's committed to teaching a social justice curriculum... which she knows can sound abstract.

"Yeah, those are easy words to say that mean a lot of things," she says.

In this month's Voices of Educators segment, Shafer describes one of her favorite social justice units and explains why, after years of teaching fourth grade, she switched to third.

Do you know a great teacher to include in our series? Send us an email:

Mallory Falk / WWNO

When a school shuts down, families have to figure out where to go next.

Anthony Parker faced that decision this year. His son AJ was a kindergartner at Lagniappe Academies, which closed on May 8.

Parker spoke with WWNO Education Reporter Mallory Falk about finding a new school for AJ and shared his advice for other families.

Support for education reporting comes from Bapist Community Ministries and Entergy Corporation

Mallory Falk / WWNO


Our series "Closing Costs" follows three New Orleans schools who lost their charters.

At Lagniappe Academies, some administrators tried to hide a lack of services for students with disabilities. The state and Recovery School District chose to close the school, which is a cluster of mobile classrooms in Tremé, rather than find a new operator.

The last day starts off in the cafeteria. Students perform the school chants and cheers one last time.

Pop songs alternate with the chants. Students dance, some with carefully choreographed dance routines.

Mallory Falk / WWNO

The school year is winding down, and for three New Orleans charters, the last day will bring dramatic changes. Two of those schools are closing for good. The third – kindergarten through 8th grade school Andrew H. Wilson Charter – is getting a new operator.

The story of Wilson's future is the first in WWNO's series Closing Costs.

Wilson's contract was up for review this year. The school had to earn a D to get renewed. It missed the grade by less than one point.

Pat Sullivan / AP

What if you had to start your school system over almost from scratch? What if most of the buildings were unusable, and most of the teachers had left or been fired? Is that a nightmare, or your dream come true?

In New Orleans, that was the reality after the flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina. That set off a chain reaction that transformed the city's schools forever, first by a state takeover and then by the most extensive charter school system in the country.

Steve Voss / NPR

The New Orleans education system has changed dramatically in the almost ten years since Hurricane Katrina. NPR's Michel Martin is in town for a live event looking at those changes. It's part of her Going There series, where she hosts conversations about local topics with national significance.

Martin recently spoke about the event with WWNO Education Reporter Mallory Falk. She started by explaining why she chose to focus on education in New Orleans.

On weekend afternoons, Craig Adams Jr. plays for tourists on the streets of the French Quarter.

He gigs with different bands, bringing whatever's needed: trumpet, trombone, saxophone — he plays six or seven instruments in all. There's a white plastic bucket on the sidewalk so people can drop in cash as they browse the T-shirts and Mardi Gras masks.

Craig is 18, and there's music in his blood: "I had my uncle, my grandfather, and my dad to teach me." His father, Craig Adams Sr., leads a group called the Higher Dimensions of Praise Gospel Band.

Principal Nicholas Dean looks at his scarred, broken office door with resignation.

"Time to get a new lock," he says.

Over the weekend, a person or persons smashed into his office, found the keys to the school van and drove off in it.

It's another day at Crescent Leadership Academy, one of New Orleans' three second-chance schools for students who have not been successful elsewhere.