Sun. Dec 5th, 2021

The Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives comes from the work of Dr. Scott Cowen, the man who served as the University President at Tulane University during and after Hurricane Katrina. As New Orleans struggled to come back after the storm, Dr. Cowen realized the city’s schools were vital to its survival as well as the survival of his University in the future. He headed the Educational Committee for the Bring New Orleans Back Commission, which focused on positive changes to the city’s school system. This committee laid the foundation for the Institute.

It soon became obvious that all of the ideas Dr. Cowen brought to the table simply could not be implemented directly by the public school districts as they reeled from the impact of the storm. In 2006, the Scott S. Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives was founded to carry on the work begun by the committee. The Institute’s primary goal is to allow Tulane University to have an impact on reform efforts for the public school system throughout New Orleans by advocating success in urban schools.

Through the guidance of the Institute, New Orleans public schools are making a comeback. After Katrina, 90 percent of the schools in the city were declared to be failing by the state government. This allowed them to turn the city into a Recovery School District, breaking the control that the teacher’s union had and firing all of the school system employees. By rehiring the good teachers and bringing in veteran teachers and education entrepreneurs from around the country, the school district has begun to revive again, offering a quality educational system to its students.

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Most of the new schools opened as charter schools. Parents are now given choices for the schools their children can attend, and the Institute is working to educate parents as to the best ways to implement those choices. The district has much ground to regain after the devastation of the hurricane and in response to the poor education it provided prior to Katrina, but it is making progress.

The Cowen Institute has played a vital role in these changes. First, it has focused on applied research, researching systems of public schools that work, performance measurement techniques, and ways these facts can be applied to the situation in New Orleans. These are functions the struggling district and state government simply could not perform, and are vital to the future success of the changing district.

The Institute also plays a vital role in forming public policy. It advocates legislation and funding initiatives that best benefit local schools and ensure equal funding and safe facilities for all children.

The University is also working on its own campus to further public schooling throughout New Orleans. They are constantly developing and running support programs that involve the University faculty and students in supporting the local public schools.

Finally, the Cowen Institute is working hard to ensure that kids in New Orleans are getting sufficient education to prepare them for college. This involves creating, launching, and supporting math and science programs that will make kids more able to function in the college environment. With these programs, the institute hopes more kids will further their schooling and attend Tulane, thus bettering the entire community of New Orleans.

By rahul