Day 3, NOLA
Wednesday, St. Patricks Day, we saw a panel of teachers talk at the Green Charter School (a beautiful school that had an incredible garden outside and kitchen inside and is often referred to as the “Edible School Yard”). The teachers on the panel were a great range, and included three women who had been working in the New Orleans Public Schools for decades and had been fired after the hurricane, a teacher who had worked in the schools before and now taught physical education at the Green Charter, and a Teach For America teacher from New Jersey who was in her second year of the program.
Towards the end of what was a very powerful, infor- mative, passionate discussion of the school system, one of the “forced to retire” teachers stated that the school system is now a “replica of colonialism”. I immediately saw her point and her frustration in trying to work with a system that was basically calling the schools she had known, loved and given her dedicated work to a complete failure, something that needed to be replaced and taken over.
Today, we saw several charter schools. The first was called ARISE Academy and is currently taking over a public school, which was referred to as Drew. These schools really made me think of the colonial model the entire time we were there. The women we met with at the school are from New Schools for New Orleans, a program that really did a lot to open new schools after the hurricane. They first talked to us for about an hour about the charter model they were working within and how it worked in a school building where two separate districts, two separate administrations, two separate schools, are operating at the same time.