When I tell people I’m a high school teacher in New Orleans, they look at me like I’m a few inches taller than I was before. They look at me like I’m a saint, but if they heard how hard I laughed at things I shouldn’t, they wouldn’t assume I was so pious. This past week one of students in AP Language and Composition said Drake was the type of rapper who wears a pad when his girlfriend gets her period so he can feel her pain. Inappropriate? Definitely, but it’s lighthearted compared to the vitriol I used to spit at my teachers.
When a group of Mid-City residents proposed opening a school four years ago that would be racially and economically diverse, they were greeted with doubt. Skeptics thought Morris Jeff would end up like most other public schools in the city: almost entirely African American and low-income.
“The understanding (was) that you guys are delusional. Once the school is open (it) will look the same way that all public schools who are open access look,” said Celeste Lofton-Bagert, one of the founders.
Eve Abrams has been chronicling Akili Academy, an open enrollment charter school now in its sixth year. This week, she reports on Akili Academy’s new-to-them building, and the issue of school real estate city-wide.
Akili Academy has always been a school of trailers, sitting in Gentilly. Until this year. The K-8th grade charter school has opened its doors in a permanent building.
This month the University of New Orleans sent out a notice, saying its child daycare facility would close December 20. The reason given? It loses money, at a time when the university is facing severe budget cuts. That leaves 81 children in need of new child care options.
At dusk, parents descend on the UNO lakefront campus to collect their little ones from daycare. But a few weeks ago, they lingered — to browse brochures for different child care. Word was out, the UNO Children’s Center was closing.
In New Orleans, it's cool to be in the high school band — especially when Trombone Shorty shows up in the band room.
The brass player and bandleader recently paid a visit to New Orleans' Warren Easton High School to work with band members. It's part of his work with the Trombone Shorty Foundation, a music education initiative.
"[Trombone Shorty] is, without a doubt, the role model for the next generation right now," says Bill Taylor, the foundation's executive director.
Political tempers have flared in Louisiana surrounding the Common Core standards. Adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, the guidelines change the way some subjects are taught, and aim to better measure how students are performing on a national level.
Voices from the Classroom, a series presented by NolaVie and WWNO, explores local education through conversations with those on the front lines: the teachers.
While superintendents, experts, parents, politicians and pundits have weighed in extensively on what's right and wrong with the educational system in Louisiana, it's the people behind the desks who must deal, day in and day out, with students, evaluations, testing, behavior, curriculum and, ultimately, what works and what does not.