What exactly is the purpose of public education? Gov. Bobby Jindal’s sweeping education package has introduced a litany of policy initiatives, slogans, and ideas that have flown over the public’s head faster than it did through the House and Senate education committees. As the general public literally waits for whatever falls in our collective laps, would proponents or opponents please articulate a coherent vision of the purpose of public education.
Students at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts had lots of questions for a visitor this week. Choreographer Travis Payne explained how a teenager from Atlanta, Georgia, ended up dancing with Michael Jackson.
The America’s Wetland Foundation is awarding $48,000 to Louisiana students for their artistic impressions of the importance of wetlands. The money stays at the schools for continued environmental education.
Tulane University is getting a $5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help universities in areas prone to disasters establish education and development programs.
Ky Luu is executive director of Tulane's Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy. He says New Orleans has experience dealing in natural disasters, such as hurricanes, and man-made ones, including the BP oil spill. That experience will be shared with centers in Thailand and another in east Africa.
Louisiana incarcerates more people per capita than any other state. Ironically, schools contribute directly to this dubious distinction. The phrase, "school-to-prison pipeline," describes how schools convey students directly into the criminal justice system through "zero-tolerance" policies that criminalize mundane school infractions, which are called status offenses.
These policies lead to high suspension and expulsion rates. Dana Kaplan of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana explains our state of affairs.
New Orleans' highly touted education reforms are receiving praise in the same newspapers that also highlight daily occurrences of flagrant violent acts committed by school-aged children. Signs of growth for students in reformed schools are encouraging. However, what innovations are provided for youth who have been pushed-out, dropped out or are otherwise disengaged from our educational systems?