FAQs

 

New Orleans is a city unlike anywhere else in the country, and our system of schools is unlike anywhere else too. We are the first city where virtually all public schools are charter schools, each with the agency to create its own unique culture. This system provides public school choice for students and families, and autonomy and accountability for school leaders, teachers, and staff.

Below, find answers to frequently asked questions about teaching, charter schools, and the New Orleans education landscape.

Teaching in New Orleans

1. What type of credentials do I need to teach in New Orleans public schools?

Our schools want the very best teachers for our students. For candidates with teaching experience, the most important qualities our schools are looking for are a track record of success, strong content knowledge, and the ability to make meaningful connections with students. Many schools also encourage their teachers to obtain Louisiana certification, but the vast majority do not require it for new hires; under Louisiana state law, charter school instructional staff are not required to hold certification. Numerous certification programs aimed at current, full-time teachers are available in southeast Louisiana, a list of which can be found in the Post-Secondary Education section of the Get Started page.
For candidates who do not have teaching experience, visit the Get Started page to learn about the different pathways available to launch your career.

2. How do I find a teaching position in New Orleans public schools?

Visit the Apply Now page! There, you can find out about current openings, or use our resume drop, which shares your resume with all New Orleans public schools.

3. How do I figure out which school is right for me?

Visit the Our Schools page to learn more about each of New Orleans’ public schools! If you are still looking for additional information, check out the Louisiana Department of Education’s School Finder website and the EnrollNOLA School Guide.

4. What is the salary schedule for New Orleans teachers?

The vast majority of public schools in New Orleans are charter schools, which have autonomy to manage their own compensation policies. As a result, there is not one uniform salary schedule for all public schools in the city. On average, a New Orleans public school teacher with three years of experience receives a salary of $47,000. All public schools in the city offer health insurance and some type of retirement package, such as the Teacher Retirement System of Louisiana or 403(b) plans. Teachers have an average of 56 days of summer vacation, plus holiday and Mardi Gras breaks throughout the school year.

5. I have other questions about teaching in New Orleans. Is there someone I can contact?

Yes – you can reach out to Shelley Stocker at shelley@nsno.org. The Teach New Orleans team will respond within two business days.

The New Orleans Landscape

1. Are all schools in New Orleans charter schools?

Almost all schools in New Orleans are charter schools, and 98% of public school students attend charter schools. Of the 87 public schools in New Orleans during the 2018-19 school year, 2 schools are traditional district-operated schools. The Cowen Institute at Tulane University publishes a helpful chart each school year showing the name and governance type of all New Orleans public schools.

2. Who oversees charter schools in New Orleans?

The vast majority of charter schools in New Orleans are authorized and overseen by the Orleans Parish School Board, which is the local school district for New Orleans. Approximately 10% of schools in the city are overseen by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The Cowen Institute at Tulane University publishes a helpful chart each school year showing the name and governance type of all New Orleans public schools.

3. Is there a local school district in New Orleans?

Yes, the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) is the local public school district in New Orleans. However, OPSB only directly operates two schools (during the 2018-19 school year). The majority of schools under the purview of OPSB are charter schools.

4. How do New Orleans students enroll in public school?

The New Orleans system of public schools operates under city-wide school choice and unified enrollment.

City-wide public school choice: Unlike most traditional school districts, students are not assigned to a school based on their residential address and the district’s geographic attendance boundaries. New Orleans students and families can apply to any public school in the city, regardless of their neighborhood or the school’s location.

Unified enrollment: Admissions, transfers, and readmissions for the vast majority of New Orleans public schools are centrally managed by the EnrollNOLA unified enrollment system. This system ensures that public school enrollment is equitable and transparent for all students and families. It also makes the school application process more convenient for families, as EnrollNOLA’s OneApp enables families to apply to all participating schools using one application. A small number of New Orleans schools – less than 10% – do not participate in EnrollNOLA and instead manage their enrollment process independently.

5. What is the Recovery School District? What is New Orleans schools “unification”?

The Recovery School District (RSD) is an arm of the Louisiana Department of Education that was created by the state legislature in 2003 to turn around the lowest performing schools across the state. The purpose of the RSD, both then and now, is to serve as the final intervention for schools that continue to struggle despite comprehensive improvement strategies.

While the RSD is a statewide intervention strategy, it is often associated with New Orleans due to the large number of New Orleans schools that were under RSD governance between 2005 and 2018. Prior to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the state had transferred five chronically failing New Orleans schools into the RSD, although far more schools in the city were considered low-performing. As of the end of the 2004-05 school year, almost two thirds of New Orleans’ 117  public schools were designated “Academically Unacceptable Schools” (AUS) by the state, and many more were labeled with “Academic Warning.” After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, the Louisiana Legislature and Department of Education decided to transfer all low-performing New Orleans schools to the RSD, leaving 10 high-performing schools under the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB). From 2005 until summer 2018, the RSD governed the majority of New Orleans public schools.

As of July 1, 2018, all New Orleans schools under the RSD returned to the oversight of the Orleans Parish School Board – a “unification” of almost all New Orleans public schools under local governance. (A small number of schools in the city are special state-authorized charter schools and were not affected.) This milestone was the culmination of efforts that were initiated in 2016, when the Louisiana Legislature passed Act 91 providing for unification, and dozens of New Orleans educators and community stakeholders subsequently began working together to develop and implement a transition plan. While all former RSD charter schools in New Orleans are now overseen by OPSB, this governance shift did not involve any changes for these schools related to mission, instruction, staffing, etc.

To learn more about the Recovery School District in New Orleans, read the Cowen Institute’s 2011 report, Transforming Public Education in New Orleans: The Recovery School District. To learn more about unification, read New Schools for New Orleans’ July 2018 blog post.

General Charter School Information

1. Are charter schools public schools?

Yes, charter schools are public schools. They are tuition-free and receive public funding on a per pupil basis, according to their student enrollment levels.

2. How are charter schools different than traditional, district-operated schools?

While charter schools and traditional district schools are all public schools, there are differences between them. Charter schools are independently run, meaning they are not operated by a traditional school district; instead they operate under an independent contract or “charter” between an authorizing agency and a charter organization. In Louisiana, all charter organizations are governed by nonprofit community boards, and all authorizing agencies are governed by elected boards (local school boards and the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education).

In addition to governance, charter schools are different from traditional district schools in three primary ways:

  • Choice: A family chooses to enroll their child in a particular charter school, instead of being assigned to a school based on where they live. Teachers and principals also choose to work in the school, instead of being assigned to a school by a school district central office.
  • Flexibility: Charter schools operate with freedom from some of the policies and regulations that are imposed upon traditional district schools. They can make timely decisions in order to best meet the needs of their students in areas such as curriculum, staffing, budget, and school day and school year schedules.
  • Accountability: Charter schools are held accountable to the same academic standards as traditional district schools, as well as to standards concerning financial management and organizational stability. These standards are set by both the state department of education and the charter’s authorizing agency. If a charter school consistently fails to meet these standards, the authorizing agency will not renew their operating contract.

3. Are all charter schools the same?

No, charter schools can vary in a number of different ways. The following list includes just some of the ways in which charter schools differ.

  • Every charter school has its own philosophy and approach to instruction and school culture. Some have special educational models, such as language immersion, college preparatory, design thinking, Montessori, etc.
  • Charter schools may be brand new schools or they may be traditional district-operated schools that were converted into charter schools.
  • Charter schools may be operated by a nonprofit charter organization that runs one school only or by a “charter management organization” that runs multiple schools (see the related question below for further information).
  • Some charter schools have an extended school day and/or an extended school year in order to increase students’ learning time.

4. Who attends charter schools?

Any child can attend a charter school. Most, but not all, charter schools are “open-enrollment” – meaning they serve all students, without academic or other special admissions requirements. A small number of charter schools do have admissions requirements that are related to the school’s educational model, such as foreign language proficiency for a language immersion school or auditions for a performing arts school. Regardless of admissions criteria, all charter schools are required to follow state and federal laws related to serving students with disabilities, students who are English language learners, students who are homeless, and students in foster care.

In New Orleans, almost all public schools are charter schools, and thus 98% of public school students attend charter schools. More than 85% of New Orleans public schools are open-enrollment. (See “The New Orleans Landscape” section below for further information.)

5. Who authorizes charter schools?

For all states in the U.S. where charter schools are permitted, charter school authorization occurs via “authorizing agencies,” also known as “authorizers.” The types of institutions designated as authorizing agencies, however, varies depending on states’ charter laws; authorizers may be school districts, state education agencies, mayors and municipalities, universities, or other entities.

In Louisiana, the only authorizers are local school districts and the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Thus, all Louisiana authorizing agencies are governed by elected boards.

6. How are charter schools held accountable?

Charter schools are held accountable by their authorizing agency, which in Louisiana is either the local school board or the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. In addition to authorizing the creation of new charter schools, authorizers oversee school performance in accordance with defined standards, and decide which schools should continue to serve students or not. These performance standards encompass student outcomes, financial management, and organizational stability. Unlike most traditional district schools, a charter school may be closed by its authorizer if it consistently fails to meet the performance standards by the end of its operating contract.

In Louisiana, all public schools – including charter schools – administer state standardized tests, evaluate teachers, and receive School Performance Scores through the state accountability system. All public schools must comply with Louisiana state laws that govern public entities, such as the Code of Ethics, Open Meetings Law, Local Government Budget Act, Public Records Act, and Public Bid Law. Charter schools must also comply with any policies set by their authorizing agency.

7. How are charter schools funded?

As public schools, all charter schools are tuition-free. They receive public funding on a per pupil basis, according to their student enrollment levels. As public schools, charter schools are also eligible for various federal funding sources depending on their student population, such as Title I, IDEA, and school nutrition.

In Louisiana, all public schools – including charter schools – receive the majority of their funding via the state Minimum Foundation Program (MFP), the method by which the state equitably distributes public funds to K-12 public school programs on a per pupil basis.

8. What is a charter management organization (CMO)?

Charter management organizations (CMOs), also referred to as charter school networks, are nonprofit organizations that operate more than one charter school. CMOs have a unified educational mission and typically provide shared instructional and operational services to all of their schools, such as professional development, benchmark assessments, student transportation, and human resources. CMOs can differ in a variety of ways, just like charter schools themselves. Some CMOs operate only high schools or only elementary/middle schools; some CMOs focus solely on transforming chronically low-performing schools or on starting brand new schools; and some CMOs operate multiple schools across a state or even across the U.S.

In New Orleans, almost two thirds of public schools are operated by fifteen CMOs. The majority of these CMOs were founded locally and remain locally focused. New Orleans CMOs and their schools can be viewed in this helpful chart, which is updated annually by the Cowen Institute at Tulane University.

Sources: Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools and National Association of Public Charter Schools

 

 

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