On the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Canadian activist and author Naomi Klein republished an excerpt from her 2006 national best seller The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, claiming free-market acolytes of economist Milton Friedman capitalized on the disaster to radically alter New Orleans’s public education system.
This conspiratorial narrative, and many of the underlying errors, color the education reform debate to this day. It closely tracks the story many reform opponents tell— ignoring heroic efforts to rebuild the city’s schools, dysfunction that existed before the storm, and improvements that have occurred since.
Now, even mainstream media outlets that provide an honest accounting of those improvements sometimes describe the new system as a “free-market” approach to schooling. The reality is much more complicated, and therein lies one of the flaws in the narrative Klein spins. Continue Reading →