The state has released enrollment data for New Orleans public schools, which includes all OPSB schools, RSD New Orleans schools and the city’s Type 2 charter schools. As of October 1, 2012:
- 84% of New Orleans public school students attend charter schools, up from 78% last year and 71% in 2010. New Orleans has a greater percentage of students in charter schools than anywhere else in the country. Detroit and the District of Columbia come in a distant second with just over 40% in charters. The national average is 4%.
- Enrollment increased for the 6th consecutive year to 43,540 students, up 1,626 students from last year and a 70% increase from 2006, the first full year after Katrina. Additionally, another 2,440 New Orleans students are receiving publicly funded vouchers to attend private or parochial schools. This increase in enrollment likely means the city’s population continues to grow.
- Diversity in public schools continues to slowly increase. The percent of African American students has decreased from 93% in 2004-05 (pre-Katrina) to 87%. The percent of white students has increased from 4% to 7%, and the percent of other (Hispanic and Asian) has increased from 3% to 6%.
- Poverty still defines our student population. Today, 79% of students receive free lunch versus 73% pre-Katrina. The state average is 59%.
This data provides some interesting insight into our public school student population. It is encouraging to see enrollment figures steadily increase and the student body gradually diversify.
However, the diversity and socio-economic status of our public schools students is not that much different than before the storm. The historic academic gains New Orleans students have made since Katrina are clearly not the result of a changing student population. Rather, it is further evidence that high quality charter schools are a potent driver behind our students’ success.
These findings are released at the same time the Brookings Institution Education Choice and Competition Index (ECCI) ranked the RSD and NOPS #1 and #6, respectively, for “the quality of education choice and competition.” The ECCI attributes the RSD’s high marks to its parental preference-driven school assignment process, the availability of school performance data and free transportation.