The second season of “Treme”, a dramatic HBO series set in post-Katrina New Orleans, came out on disc earlier this year.
Among other story lines, season two touches on the rise of charter schools after the hurricane. The show’s story editor notes:
Public education in New Orleans has gone from bad to complicated. Before the federal levee failures, the city’s public schools were among the worst in a nation filled with bad urban school districts. Since Hurricane Katrina, the school system has become the nation’s foremost laboratory for charter school education. For parents, that means a complex array of choices.
“‘Treme’ Fact and Fiction: The Schools”, Lolis Eric Elie, Inside Treme blog (HBO), June 17, 2011.
The show features three charter schools:
- Lusher Charter School, a real-life, high-performing charter school operated by the Orleans Parish School Board. Sofia Bernette (India Ennenga) is a student.
- Theophile Jones Elie Elementary School, a fictional charter school. Trombonist Antoine Batiste (Wendell Pierce) takes a job as assistant band director.
- Homer A. Plessy School, another fictional charter school. Batiste’s girlfriend, Desiree (Phyllis Montana-LeBlanc), teaches there and tries to pull strings to get a child admitted.
NOLA.com blogger Dave Walker re-posted a 2006 article about getting New Orleans schools ready to re-open. “It’s a dream come true for many: a total makeover of New Orleans public schools”, Steve Ritea, New Orleans Times-Picayune, July 3, 2006.
For more commentary and behind-the-scenes details, see Walker’s “Treme” Explained posts for these episodes:
- Everything I Do Gonh Be Funky (May 1, 2011)
- Santa Claus, Do You Ever Get the Blues? Links to information about the KIPP band teacher, KIPP band students, and KIPP campus location used in Batiste’s scenes. Also, background on Teach for America. (May 15, 2011)
- Feels Like Rain (May 29, 2011)
- Do Whatcha Wanna (July 3, 2011)
Crunchy data: The Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives at Tulane University last month released its 2012 report on “The State of Public Education in New Orleans”. In 2011-12, 78% of the public school students in New Orleans attended charter schools. (p. 2) Also, an October 2011 poll found that 90% of public school parents in New Orleans strongly agree that it is important to choose their children’s school. (p. 3)