Charter Schools Movement State Timeline
Louisiana’s charter schools . . .
In 1995 Louisiana passes their charter school law with the purpose of: improving pupil learning, increasing education opportunities, encouraging the use of innovative education methods, and to create professional opportunities for teachers, to name a few. Within the original law, it allocated for two authorizers in the state, the state board of education and the local school district. At first, up to 8 school districts could choose to participate.
In 1997, the charter law was revised to allow all school districts to participate in charters but instituted a state wide cap of 42 schools. It also applied an appeals process; if a charter was denied by a local school board, they could take their application directly to the state board of education for approval or denial.
In 2002, the Louisiana Association for Public Charter Schools (LAPCS) is established. Initially started in 2002, the organization was volunteer run and focused on supporting, promoting, and advocating for charter schools. In 2007, they secured funding to hire an executive director and their membership included 90% of the charter schools within the state. Today, they serve nearly 100% of charters and just over 87,000 students.
Louisiana saw one constitutional amendment and four bills passed around charters in 2003. The constitutional amendment allowed the state board of education to take over for failing public schools or provided for others to do so and instead convert them to ‘Type 5’ charter schools, or Recovery School Districts (RSD).
After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the state took control of 100 schools in New Orleans and they were converted to charter schools through the RSD process. What started out as an educational experiment, has turned into the nation’s first all charter, no traditional schools, school district. Another noteworthy move, the city eliminated the traditional method of assignment by address and instead replaced it with universal school choice.
As New Orleans school culture is remade in the wake of Hurrican Katrina, New Schools for New Orleans is established in 2006. Today as the organization helps New Orleans close the achievement gap, they focus on solutions, excellence, passion, and equity.
In 2009, the Louisiana legislature officially removed the cap on charter schools in the state.
Louisiana was successful in securing ‘Race to the Top’ funds in 2011 totaling $17.4 million. Only 20 of Louisiana’s 70 school districts decided to participate in the application. The state’s Recovery School District located in New Orleans and therefore mostly charters was one of which took part. The money was used to cultivate great teachers and leaders within the state and implement a new teacher evaluation system.
In 2012, Louisiana authorized corporate charters. This allowed a business, or group of businesses, to donate land, facilities, or technology in an amount equal to at least 50% of the per-pupil funding. In return, 50% of the seats at charter school would be reserved for children of the business. Since the law was passed, only two charters have been opened under the law.
With bipartisan support, Louisiana’s legislature passed Act 91. The act brought New Orleans schools, previously governed by the states Recovery School District program, back under the control of the Orleans Parish School Board. Local control was returned July 1, 2018.
A court case brought to Louisiana’s supreme court rule that charter schools are indeed public schools and should be state funded. The case, that started back in 2014, was brought by one of the largest teachers' unions in the state and the decision helped avoid the shutdown of 42 charters.
For the 2020-2021 school year, Louisiana was home to 146 charter schools, serving over 87,000 students. In the Orleans Parish School Board district, charters enroll 98.8% of school kids.
While Louisiana excels in parts of the charter school law, including: no caps on growth, multiple charter authorizers, and a fair amount of accountability and autonomy, it can do better in others. The state’s charter schools still struggle with facility funding, and it does not operate any full-time virtual charters making it difficult to serve all students.