Former TIME managing editor Walter Isaacson returns to the magazine this week to describe how the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina could yield positive results for New Orleans’ schools.

Isaacson describes the post-Katrina Big Easy as a magnet for the school choice movement. Near the end of the piece, he writes:

There will be problems in this entrepreneurial free-for-all. Even though the charter operators are carefully vetted and many of them have national track records, some will inevitably produce poor schools. There’s also the danger that the best students with the most committed parents will be skimmed off by the best schools. That’s why it’s important to have clear standards, accountability and testing, so that all parents can make informed choices. The tuition money must follow the pupils, so that schools that fail will wither away and, unless politicians or old-line bureaucrats get involved, have to shut down.

There are those who argue that some parents will not have the ability or inclination to find the right school for their kids. But I’m convinced that all parents–rich and poor–benefit when they get to make their own choices rather than be subjected to a monopoly provider. So I am optimistic. If the experiment succeeds, even in part, it has the chance to transform urban education nationwide.