Gaismen Campbell moved frequently as a young child. She started to come into her own in middle school, a few years after Katrina, and became her high school's salutatorian. A recent graduate of Spelman College, in Atlanta, she will start teaching eighth-grade English in New Orleans next month.CreditWilliam Widmer for The New York Times
The New Orleans turnaround shows the power of giving more freedom to teachers and principals — and then holding them accountable for their performance.
Twelve years later, Nigel Palmer still remembers the embarrassment of his first days as a fourth grader in Monroe, La. He was a Hurricane Katrina evacuee from New Orleans, living with his family in a La Quinta Inn, 250 miles from home. As soon as the school year began, he could tell that the kids in his new school seemed different from him.
They could divide numbers. He really couldn’t. They knew the 50 states. He didn’t. “I wasn’t up to par,” he quietly told me. It’s a miserable feeling.
Until the storm, Palmer had been attending New Orleans public schools, which
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