New Thinking in Political Economy series
Edited by Emily Chamlee-Wright and Virgil Henry Storr
Chapter 13: Improving Academics in the Aftermath: A Case Study of New Orleans’ Experiment with Charter Schools
Erin Marie Agemy INTRODUCTION 13.1 In late August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina became the largest disaster in US history, causing severe destruction along the Gulf Coast from Texas to central Florida. The hardest hit city was New Orleans, largely due to their levee system catastrophically failing, which flooded most of the city, as well as large areas of neighboring parishes. Katrina left behind over one hundred billion dollars in property damage, displaced tens of thousands and killed over 1600 people. In Orleans Parish the flood waters lingered for weeks, contributing to the overwhelming destruction and uncertainty, which created a citywide collective action problem (Chamlee-Wright 2007, 2008; Chamlee-Wright and Storr 2009). As Chamlee-Wright and Storr (2009) describe, being the first to return meant investing in a largely risky venture, without the guarantee that others would follow suit to restore their community. Indeed, the decision of whether to return proved difficult to make with extremely limited knowledge about whether other neighbors would also return to rebuild their homes and businesses. As a result, a wait and see attitude rationally emerged, which can further delay the recovery process (Chamlee-Wright and Storr 2009). In this scenario how do people actually overcome the collective action problem in order to rebuild their city? Chamlee-Wright and Storr (2009, pp. 430–31) ‘stress the role that club goods play in helping communities overcome the collective action challenges associated with post disaster community recovery’ and that they ‘can be key for community redevelopment’. They specifically focus on the bundle...
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