Roland Martin Highlights America’s School Choice ‘Revolution’ 10 Years After Katrina

MLK Charter School 9th Ward Getty Mario Tama
Getty/Mario Tama

The African-American centric news network TV One recently recognized the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina by examining the school choice explosion that has rewritten the history of New Orleans’ once failing school system with a special entitled, The New Orleans Charter School Revolution: Ten Years After Katrina — A Parent’s Story.

“Ten years ago, 85% of New Orleans was under water, but before that, 63% of New Orleans public schools were judged academically unacceptable,” said Roland Martin, Host & Managing Editor of TV One’s NewsOne Now. “Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, but as this special discloses, Katrina just may have saved its schools, and its school children.”

Just 44 states allow public charter schools, while only 14% of African-American students attend such schools. NewsOne wanted to chart how New Orleans’ focus on charter schools 10 years after Katrina has affected the rest of America, so they conducted a nationwide survey.

NewsOne asked 621 African-American families to grade the school that their children attend.

For traditional public schools, those black parents’ grades were:

18% – A

36% – B

26% – C

10% – D

5% – F

Black parents whose children attend public charter schools also gave those schools a grade:

45% – A

28% – B

18% – C

1% – D

1% F

The results, as you can see, were overwhelming.

NewsOne also found that 72% of African-American parents favor public charter schools for their community. A mere 13% said they oppose public charter schools.

Another 74% of parents told NewsOne that they were “interested in enrolling their own children in a public charter, only 18% were not.”

NewsOne also asked African America parents around the country how interested they were in vouchers, which could be used to send their children to charters, private, or parochial schools.

“A stunning 79% of American-American parents were interested in getting vouchers, 14% were not,” Martin said.

In the 10 years since Hurricane Katrina rocked the Gulf states–with unwavering support from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal–New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu laid off over 7,000 teachers in a massive effort to revitalize the Big Easy’s public education system.

The results are in: it worked.

Martin and News One’s investigative deep dive into how charter schools’ and Louisiana’s push for school choice have resurrected New Orleans’ education corridor, is a sobering and welcome piece of journalism.

You can watch the entire New Orleans Charter School Revolution: Ten Years After Katrina special at


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