We Deserve Better

One of the most startling moments of the (at least) year-long culture shock I experienced when I first moved to New Orleans from New York in 2002 took place in a public middle school. I was there trying to teach an after-school newspaper class -- I say trying, because I quickly found out many of my students considered reading and writing to be forms of punishment, who hadn't been taught to do either and resented being asked to try, especially *after* school.

The state's dreaded standardized test, the LEAP, was coming up soon, and I noticed that there were construction paper signs all over the shabby bulletin boards warning/encouraging the kids: "Have faith in yourself, and you will pass the LEAP"..."Pray, and God will see you through the LEAP." It was so depressing to me that the message these kids were getting, from the teachers no less, was that they needed a miracle -- not actual education -- to make it to the next grade.

So when people here point to the "positive" impact that Katrina had on shaking up the broken public school system, it's hard not to agree, and I do think it'll bear out in the long run. But for the kids currently in the chaotic school system, it's a continuing disaster.

Still, that the kids who evacuated now have some awareness of the bum deal they've been getting represents a seismic shift, and last night the news reported on a Town Hall meeting where the students themselves were invited to give their input. These kids were more articulate, and more on point, than anyone currently on the City Council, and it was pretty amazing to hear them represent themselves so well when every other facet of this society has failed to.

The girl in this clip put it so simply: "We deserve better."

March 22, 2007 10:32 AM | | Comments (0)


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This page contains a single entry by Culture Gulf published on March 22, 2007 10:32 AM.

Native sons and daughters was the previous entry in this blog.

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