Baton Rouge has a fraught history when it comes to equity and education, but Louisiana is no stranger to school autonomy and choice. Our state has some of the most robust and progressive laws on the books related to managing charter schools. We are also home to the highest concentration choice market in the country: New Orleans. However, to date, the transformative reforms that took hold in New Orleans have failed to spread beyond its parish boundaries.
In contrast, Baton Rouge represents a fresh opportunity to build a new proofpoint of reform in a city that sits at the heart of Louisiana politics and culture. Strategically, Baton Rouge affords a unique platform to highlight the power of educational choice and autonomy to key political and policy stakeholders from across the state. In many ways, Baton Rouge is also far more representative of other communities across Louisiana than New Orleans.
New Schools for Baton Rouge (NSBR), founded in 2012 by a diverse coalition of community leaders, is keenly aware of this opportunity and has focused its efforts on a transformation strategy that can both meet the immediate need of our community and, over time, catalyze statewide reform to address a long history of educational failures and inequities. As a result of limited access to high quality public schools, wealthy and well-informed families have historically opted into private schools, or created entirely new and independent school districts, leaving students of color, economically disadvantaged students, English language learners, and students with disabilities to be disproportionately affected by our city’s failures within the education realm.
Our core belief is that every student is capable of educational excellence when able to access appropriate resources tailored to individual needs and learning styles, regardless of their background or the obstacles they face. This is the driving force behind the successes of our students - most of whom are the recipients of generations of structural bias and oppression, and now find themselves largely underserved and marginalized. At NSBR, we strive to break down these obstacles fostered by a broken system, enabling all children to receive an education that unlocks their unique genius and prepares them for the lives of opportunity they deserve. Our mission is to ensure that every child in Baton Rouge has access to a high-quality school.
We operationalize our vision of educational excellence for all students by researching, vetting, and partnering with school operators across the country who have strong track records of success, especially for historically underserved student populations. We have recruited school options and operators that are experienced, high performing, and seek to grow a regional presence. These partnerships enable us to offer resources and support to these carefully-vetted operators, in turn enabling them to launch their high quality school models in the unique geography of our community. Our partnerships remain strong even after a school is firmly established; NSBR offers on-going support and guidance to the schools in its portfolio to ensure that each one continues to fulfill its mission to our community.
Undoubtedly, there are many high-quality schools in Baton Rouge that should be celebrated and recognized. Many schools in our community consistently achieve an A or B letter grade and have tremendous results for kids - but as of 2021, 15,000 students remain enrolled in failing schools. This is unacceptable, and NSBR’s strategy will ensure that by 2030, no child in Baton Rouge will have to attend a D or F-rated school ever again.
Our organization has begun to prove what is possible for historically underserved students in Baton Rouge, LA. As our organization nears its ten-year anniversary in 2022, we have the opportunity to fully deliver on our promise to the children and families of our community. If we can transform educational outcomes in the Capital City through choice, autonomy, and accountability, we can point to both a strategic model and slate of operators and partners prepared to drive transformative impact in other regions across the state.