How my learning about the politics of rebuilding education is influenced by my time in NOLA by Katie Albanese

Day 2, NOLA
We've read so many per- spectives, chewed through different repre- sentations and watched videos of the various stakeholders but somehow being down here really complicates what it means to rebuild the education system in New Orleans. My head is still spinning from all the different people we've spoken with and sites we've visited over the past two days. The actual experience of engaging in conversations, observing schools and navigating the city has added many new layers to my understanding of the ways in which people conceive of rebuilding.

I spent a few hours of my afternoon at the Lighthouse after school program - an enrichment program located at Thurgood Marshall Early College High School. After an hour of tutoring and art programming the students headed outside and played a game of volleyball. One students, however, was sitting in the corner of the yard playing pokemon on his gameboy.


I got the chance to sit and talk with Daren for a while, a tenth grader in the program. Juxtaposing his stories against the perspectives we've heard from teachers, program coordinators and administrators was interesting - adding yet another incredibly important voice to the picture, which is so often left out - student experience. We compared and contrasted New Orleans to New York, and he shared
with me his thoughts on his school and his program. The people at his school were weird, he said, and began to point out the quirks of all of his friends that were playing volleyball and described to me the personalities of the teachers at his school. It's a reminder of the immediate needs of Daren and his classmates, the actual lived reality of what it means to go to school in New Orleans. Yet, at the same time there are so many elements of this situation which are so obviously situated in larger national and global contexts - issues of privatization and choice, ecology and environment, representation and voice keep reappearing.

My understanding of the situation here has been complicated, my opinions are being shaken up, questioned and redefined - but most of all, this experience has grounded the theories and conversations we've had and will shape the many more to come.

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