Public Schools, Private Governance

Education Reform and Democracy in New Orleans

J. Celeste Lay
Book Cover

PB: $32.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-2264-4
Publication: May 22

HC: $110.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-2263-7
Publication: May 22

Ebook: $32.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-2265-1
Publication: May 22

249 pages
6 x 9
11 tables, 10 figs.

A comprehensive examination of education reforms and their political effects on Black and poor public-school parents in New Orleans, pre- and post-Katrina


Two months after Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana took control of nearly all the public schools in New Orleans. Today, all of the city’s public schools are charter schools. Although many analyses mark the beginning of education reform in New Orleans with Katrina, in Public Schools, Private Governance, J. Celeste Lay argues that the storm merely accelerated the timeline for reforms that had inched along incrementally over the previous decade. Both before and after Katrina, white reformers purposely excluded Black educators, community members, and parents.

Public Schools, Private Governance traces the slow, deliberate dismantling of New Orleans’ public schools, and the processes that have maintained the reforms made in Katrina’s immediate aftermath. Lay shows how Black parents and residents were left without a voice and the mostly white officials charged with school governance had little accountability. She cogently explains how political minorities disrupted systems to create change and keep reforms in place, and the predictable political effects—exclusion, frustration, and resignation—on the part of those most directly affected.

About the Author(s)

J. Celeste Lay is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Tulane University and the author of A Midwestern Mosaic: Immigration and Political Socialization in Rural America.