Houston — The Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) today announced that Neerav Kingsland has joined the Foundation as a senior education fellow. Mr. Kingsland will oversee the Foundation’s efforts to improve K-12 education. Most recently, he served as the chief executive officer of New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO), a nonprofit organization working to ensure that every child in New Orleans, Louisiana, is able to attend a high-quality public school.
NSNO has been a leader in the remarkable school turnaround effort in New Orleans, a city long known as having one of the lowest-performing districts in the nation. In 2005, 75 percent of the schools in New Orleans were failing, and that number has dropped to just 9 percent today. The city has also made great strides in closing the achievement gap between New Orleans and the rest of the state. In 2000, the percentage of New Orleans’ students who earned scores that qualified as proficient on state tests lagged 26 points behind their peers in other areas of Louisiana. As of last year, New Orleans was behind by just six points.
The dramatic gains are the result of a multifaceted strategy to transform the city’s educational system. Essential elements of that effort include state-level policy changes, the implementation of an alternate governance structure that separates school oversight from campus operations, and the commitment and determination of students, teachers, families, and community groups like NSNO.
“New Orleans has been recognized as a national model for transforming schools to meet the needs of all students, and Neerav Kingsland played an important role in that community-wide effort,” LJAF President Denis Calabrese explained. “We are very pleased that Neerav is joining the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to lead our efforts to help other cities and states deliver on the promise of providing a high-quality education for every child.”
To date, LJAF has committed approximately $50 million to help improve schools in New Orleans. It supports the work that NSNO and others are doing to create excellent schools through initiatives that promote a decentralized administration, more school choice for families, and greater flexibility and accountability for school leaders and educators.
“Having seen how the people of New Orleans were able to transform a struggling school system, I believe there is tremendous potential for other communities around the nation,” Mr. Kingsland said. “I have made it my personal mission to help other cities create high-performing schools that foster a love of learning and prepare every child for lifelong success. The Laura and John Arnold Foundation shares that commitment and I look forward to joining the team.”