New Orleans Public Schools is the city's school district and one of the area's largest (along with the Jefferson Parish School District). It is widely recognized as the lowest performing school district in Louisiana. According to researchers Carl L. Bankston and Stephen J. Caldas, 12 of the 103 schools in New Orleans showed reasonably good performance at the beginning of the twenty-first century.[84] Following Hurricane Katrina, the state of Louisiana took over most of the schools within the system (all schools that fell into a nominal "worst-performing" metric); about 20 new charter schools have been started since the storm, educating 15,000.

The Greater New Orleans area has approximately 200 parochial schools, with the vast majority being run by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans. The prevalence of very good parochial schools has been both a cause and a consequence of the troubles in the public schools. Because so many middle class students have been enrolled in non-public schools, middle class support for public education has been relatively weak. At the same time, the apparent low quality of public schools in New Orleans has encouraged middle class families to educate their children in private or parochial schools. This has contributed to major underfunding of the public school system.

Colleges and universities

A large number of institutions of higher education exist within the city, including Tulane University and Loyola University New Orleans, the city's major private universities. The University of New Orleans is a large public research university in the city. Dillard University, Southern University at New Orleans, and Xavier University of Louisiana are among some of the leading historically black colleges and universities in the United States (Xavier is the only predominantly black Catholic university in the US). Louisiana State University Medical School is the state's flagship public university medical school which also conducts research. Our Lady of Holy Cross College, Notre Dame Seminary, and the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary are several smaller religiously affiliated universities. Other notable schools include Delgado Community College, the William Carey College School of Nursing, the Culinary Institute of New Orleans, Herzing College, and Commonwealth University.


There are numerous academic and public libraries and archives in New Orleans, including Monroe Library at Loyola University, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library at Tulane University,[85] the Law Library of Louisiana,[86] and Earl K. Long Library at the University of New Orleans.[87]

The New Orleans Public Library includes 13 locations, most of which were damaged by Hurricane Katrina. However, only four libraries remained closed in 2007.[88] The main library includes a Louisiana Division housing city archives and special collections.[89]

Other research archives are located at the Historic New Orleans Collection[90] and the Old U.S. Mint.[91]

An independently operated lending library called Iron Rail Book Collective specializes in radical and hard-to-find books. The library contains over 8,000 titles and is open to the public. It was the first library in the city to re-open after Hurricane Katrina.