Regular readers will know that I think most educational interventions, both liberal and conservative, are pointless wastes of energy. Educational success is genetics/prenatal, sleep, not getting beat up*, and a dozen little-discussed mind-killers like lead poisoning, lack of iodine - and probably some effect of exposure to drugs and violence in your neighborhood - though even that doesn't seem to measure out as a big factor. Class size, fathers, amount of TV watched, church attendance, books in the home - these seem to be carts rather than horses.
Still, we have hope that something might emerge that we can actually do something about. I was very hopeful about Graduation 2010 in Daviess County, KY, but it did not pan out. There is interesting news about educational results in New Orleans post-Katrina. I remain skeptical, but not cynical. My first question, however, is whether the student body makeup was different before and after. If the worst students went away, then improved scores of the remaining students may not mean much. My first guess is that this effect would have gone in the other direction, with the worst students staying put while the brighter families got outa Dodge City. But I know nothing about that either way.
It is fair to say that what New Orleans did is not what the usual education reformers clamor for. Take it from there.
*There may actually be something environmental in the usual education-research sense here. There are possibly genes for poor attention-span and for violence that are activated by childhood trauma. All very preliminary stuff.