New Markets, Old Scripts: The Meaning of the Post-Katrina New Orleans Charter School Market for Urban School Reform and Marginalized Communities
Amanda Lu

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



Stanford University

Primary Discipline

Though much has been written about the features and impact of New Orleans Charter reforms, we know little about the actual processes that led the initial state takeover to become the nation’s first all-charter school district experienced by students and families today. This dissertation explores how this reorganization took place in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In doing so, I show how organizational actors in the new regime established themselves and cemented their power within the newly-created system. My dissertation takes a longitudinal approach by examining the organization-level decisions and strategies which implemented and sustained reforms at three distinct time periods: the initial decision to pursue large-scale charter reform immediately following Hurricane Katrina, the construction of the early charter school market, and the subsequent consolidation of that market into a small number of reform-oriented charter networks. Within each of these periods, I pay particular attention to how local communities of color reorganized and responded to these reforms and how new organizational structures like charter school networks and social ventures emerged, persisted, or failed.
About Amanda Lu
Amanda Lu is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Stanford Graduate School of Education studying Education Policy and the Sociology of Education. She is an IES Fellow and a recipient of the Stanford Graduate Fellowship in Science and Engineering. After working for four years as a math teacher and college counselor in Post-Katrina New Orleans at Edna Karr High School, Amanda pursued graduate study to make sense of the charter reforms affecting her students and their families. Her research agenda seeks to understand how new organizations arise as a result of market-based education policies and assess the broader implications of the privatization of public goods for marginalized communities. She plans to employ qualitative, quantitative, and computational methods from multiple disciplinary perspectives to challenge the simplicity of market reform rhetoric and document how school choice policies affect access to educational opportunity and political voice for urban communities of color.Amanda holds a B.A. in Government and African Studies from Harvard College, as well as an M.A. in Education Policy Organization and Leadership Studies (POLS), an M.A. in Sociology, and a Masters in Public Policy from Stanford. She has remained heavily involved in the POLS program as an instructor and has supported graduate and undergraduate level public policy courses. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking that maximizes views and minimizes uphill climbs, road trips with great playlists, and cooking overwhelming amounts of food for her friends and family.

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