There were six schools in New Orlean’s lower ninth ward before the area was wiped out by Hurricane Katrina, but the Dr Martin Luther King Jr Charter school is the only one that has re-opened.
The school made a quick recovery because its staff made a crucial strategic decision to become a charter school – partially funded by the state, as well as private corporations and non-governmental organisations – but they are not bound to the same rules and regulations as traditional schools.
Before Hurricane Katrina, just two per cent of schools in New Orleans were charters. By next year, it will be closer to 70 per cent.
This kind of explosive growth has never been tried anywhere in the United States, which makes the New Orleans school system very much an experiment – and there are plenty of people worried about the results.
Al Jazeera’s Cath Turner reports from New Orleans.