Inside the Industry: Education (Lower School)
International School of Louisiana
In 2000, a group of parents disenchanted with New Orleans’ behind-the-curve school system joined together to form a Spanish and French immersion school—the only school chartered before Katrina that would see continued success and a thriving student population after the storm. These parents envisioned and founded a tuition-free, non-selective charter school that believes in purposefully cultivating diversity—linguistically, socioeconomically, regionally, racially, culturally—as a way of enhancing education.
Today, the International School of Louisiana educates area youth in grades kindergarten through eighth across three campuses located in Jefferson, Uptown, and the West Bank. Their commitment to diversity shows in both their teacher and student populations, as they employ over 200 staff members from 40 different countries and fluent in 16 different languages, while educating over 1300 students— 43% African American, 29% White, 25% Hispanic, 2% Asian/Pacific and 1% American Indian.
The proud honoree of the 2015 Public Education Award for Exemplary Language Immersion Education, ISL is among the first Louisiana State Certified Immersion Schools and one of two Spanish language immersion schools in the metro area. There are 6,000 immersion students in Louisiana—nearly 25% of them attend ISL. Over 80% of students enter kindergarten from English-speaking homes and leave 8th grade as bilingual speakers, sometimes trilingual, and with exposure to Mandarin Chinese in middle school.
The school’s founders dictated that as a non-selective school, ISL would enroll a minimum of 53% of students identified as at-risk. The school notably won the COSEBOC award, demonstrating an effective elimination of the achievement gap for boys of color.