Fact Check: Does New Orleans Have Any Public Schools Left?

Students attend music class at the Encore Academy charter school in New Orleans. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A viral tweet claims “there are no more public schools in New Orleans.” It stems from the idea that charter schools are not public schools, and it is false. The tweet in question has been viewed 3.8 million times at the time of writing. 

https://twitter.com/revljoyce/status/1634372885333549056?s=46&t=Wppk7ZqCS2_aISGo8-jwQA

The Louisiana Department of Education defines charter schools as “public schools that are free to be more innovative and are held accountable for improved student achievement.” The Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools similarly emphasizes the fact that charter schools are publicly funded and tuition-free: 

Charter schools are tuition-free public schools of choice that are independently run by a nonprofit community board and authorized by an elected board, either a local school board or the state board of elementary and secondary education. Charter schools are different from traditional district schools in three ways:

  • Choice: Parents select the school their child attends, instead of being assigned to a school based on where they live. Teachers & principals choose to work in the school.
  • Flexibility: Charter schools are free to make timely decisions about developing curricula, structuring the school day, and hiring teachers who meet the needs of their students.
  • Accountability: Charter schools are governed by a nonprofit community board and are held to high academic, financial, and organizational standards. Charter schools are held accountable for improved student achievement and closed if performance is consistently low.

As of the 2019-2020 school year, 83 of the 86 public schools in New Orleans were charter schools according to New Schools for New Orleans, an education-focused non-profit, while the other three are operated by way of contracts between New Orleans Public Schools and nonprofit organizations. 

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