Evolution of a New Orleans Science Charter School: The New Orleans Center for Science and Math

By Ivan Gill.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The New Orleans Center for Science and Math represented a successful departure from the traditional United States high school. It was founded by a small group from outside normal education circles and had no admission requirements. It established a strong track record for science and mathematics training, and for placement of its graduates in college despite drawing its population from underprivileged families with no college tradition.
 The school offered a half-day program strictly in math and science. All other course work was taken at the students’ host school. In 2005, the city of New Orleans was inundated with floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina. The collapse of the school system was followed by the replacement of traditional, centrally run schools with a variety of semi-autonomous charter schools. New Orleans Center for Science and Math no longer had an existing base of schools from which to draw its student body and had to adopt course offerings similar to larger, more traditional schools. In the highly experimental environment of the post-Katrina New Orleans public schools, the New Orleans Charter School for Science and Math represents an interesting example of science school reform. The school served as a successful model of science education, with the ironic twist that its innovative structure was lost to a spasm of experimentation.

Keywords: New Orleans Public Schools, Science School Model, Charter Schools, Hurricane Katrina

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.35-44. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 774.430KB).

Dr. Ivan Gill

Assistant Professor, Science Education Coordinator, College of Education and Human Development, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Ivan Gill is presently Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of New Orleans and coordinator of Science Education. His background includes university teaching and research as well as science teaching in the public schools. Dr. Gill’s educational background includes masters and doctoral work in Geology, the latter undertaken with support from an Alumni Federation Fellowship from Louisiana State University. Gill’s research work involves interdisciplinary research on coral reefs, paleoclimate, and the geochemistry of groundwaters and corals. He has supervised both masters and doctoral students, and has more than 25 publications in science. Dr. Gill has taught secondary science in the New Orleans public schools for more than five years, both at a magnet school, and following the reformation of the school system in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, at an open-admission charter school. He has taught physics, biology, geology and environmental science at the secondary level and has a teaching certificate from the State of Louisiana.