2009 CABL Poll Results

Four Years After Katrina

It has been four years since Katrina struck, the levees failed, and New Orleans began the challenge of rebuilding a better city. One of the most dramatic upheavals since the storm has been in public education.

New Orleans schools now operate under a decentralized system that is completely unique. Sixty percent of students attend public charter schools. Charters have the freedom to individually decide how they will operate to better serve the needs of their students – who to hire, what curriculum to use, how to spend the money.

Moreover, all schools are schools of choice. Families get to pick their school, since students are no longer assigned to a school based on where they live.

How do voters feel about the changes?

A recent poll conducted by the Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL) reveals that New Orleans voters overwhelmingly support the changes and don’t want to go back to education as usual. The CABL survey, conducted by Vern Kennedy, polled 500 registered voters in New Orleans. The results:

  • When asked in an open-ended question to list things that are better than they were before Katrina, one in four voters named education – the number one response.
  • 74% preferred to continue with the changes in education since Katrina and not go back to the way it was before.
  • 74% supported charter schools.
  • 62% supported converting more traditional public schools into charter schools.
  • 77% preferred the current system where parents get to pick what school their child will attend.

How do voters feel about returning schools to OPSB?

CABL’s poll is a timely one. Next year, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) will consider whether or not to return the schools to the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB). According to the CABL poll,

voters clearly do not want the schools returned to the OPSB.

Voters were asked whether state officials should return the schools to the Orleans Parish School Board in 2010 or continue to operate them within the Recovery School District. Respondents were given the choice of:
a)  Return Schools In The Next Year or Two
b)  Return Schools In The Next Three To Five Years
c)  Not Return Schools At All
d)  Uncertain
Only 21% of voters thought schools should be returned in 1-2 years. 17% supported returning them in 3-5 years, and 45% said the state should not return schools at all.

62% of voters said they do not want state officials to return the schools
to the Orleans Parish School Board in 2010.

If our schools continue to show the progress that they have since Katrina, we expect even more voters will not want the schools returned to the OPSB anytime soon.

Click to read more: CABL Press Release and Poll Results.

Why do voters overwhelmingly support the changes?

Voters support the changes because New Orleans has shown more growth in student achievement than any other district in Louisiana. New Orleans voters are also well aware of the Orleans Parish School Board’s history of failure.

There have been three news stories this week that in their own way capture voters’ sentiment.

For the historical point of view:
Times-Picayune – August 23, 2009
Writer Brian Thevenot traces the corrupting influence of the Jefferson family on the Orleans Parish School Board and notes the irony that the antics of the board unwittingly sparked the takeover of the schools.
Noting the improvements:
CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360° – August 24, 2009
Greater school choice, more autonomy for school leaders and higher expectations for students are just three examples of major changes in education since Katrina.
For more detailed information on improvements in academic performance, visit the Data and Analysis page on the Educate Now! website.

Clearly New Orleans schools are getting better, and voters like these positive changes. At Educate Now! we support the education reforms underway and are firmly committed to making them effective and sustainable.

Educate Now!
Leslie Jacobs