Editor’s Note: ViaNolaVie, Krewe Magazine, and Bard Early College New Orleans partnered together in an effort to bring voices of the youth into the journalistic realm. Under the guidance of professors Kelley Crawford (Bard Early College and Tulane University) and Michael Luke (Tulane University), a composition course was manifested where students write non-fiction, New Orleans-based pieces, resulting in a printed publication (Krewe magazine) designed and published by Southern Letterpress. We will be publishing each student’s piece that was chosen for the magazine.
Let’s talk about the building at 3520 General Degaulle Dr #5055, New Orleans, LA 70114
It’s a stunning building. The plethora of windows kidnapped my eyes as it glistened with the reflection of the streets. The way the sun kissed the glass was the true definition of sparkle. I guess that’s what Drake meant when he said “gotta hit them angles.”
It made me wonder: How could something be so beautiful yet so corrupt at the same time?
This building I’m describing is the “Central Office,” also known as the Orleans Parish School Board, but it represents a shiny, gleaming side of education that many of the students never see.
After Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in 2005, New Orleans abandoned its troubled school district and adopted the charter school system. This was a decision that school-choice proponents marked as a success. In a article by the Washington Post titled “Education Secretary Duncan calls Hurricane Katrina good for New Orleans Schools,” it states, “Duncan was quoted as replying: ‘I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina. That education system was a disaster, and it took Hurricane Katrina to wake up the community to say that ‘we have to do better. And the progress that they’ve made in four years since the hurricane is unbelievable.’”
I started High School in 2015, 10 years after the storm. It was then that I noticed the discrepancy within the New Orleans school system. Although New Orleans Education system improved drastically after the storm, the city continues to gravitate towards things that will make them money. As Duncan is quoted saying, the city has a “…long way to go, but that — that city was not serious about its education.”
But what I find really fascinating about all these people talking about education is that none of them are actually students of these systems. And, I have always believed that if you want to know the truth, ask a kid because they’re unapologetically honest. Therefore, I interviewed Mayela Norwood (MN), a senior at Lusher and Wilfred Wright (WW), a junior at Landry Walker. They both serve as members on the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council. Who better than to ask two high school students.
Walk me through a typical morning in your school.
MN: At school I am typically walking around a lot and trying to do things for student life, which involves a lot of talking to teachers and my principal. Most of the time you’ll probably see me with my computer in my hand taking notes or on the way to some meeting.
WW: Well, I walk into school around 7:30. Upon walking through the front door my bags are immediately checked and I’m forced to walk through metal detectors. I prefer not to eat breakfast because the lines are really long and the food looks like prison food.
What kind of classes do you guys take?
WW: I take your basic common core classes. I am also enrolled into Bard Early College, and I’m a participant in College Track of New Orleans. I joined other academic programs to get the rigor my school lacks. We have an amazing band and football team that grabs the attention of many leaders in New Orleans. This is great because people are starting to notice us. Although I take pride in my school, I believe Landry Walker needs to delve deeper into education. Our extracurriculars shouldn’t be the only thing we’re recognized for.
Why is that?
WW: Why is What?
Why do you think your school focuses more on extracurriculars?
WW: Well, I’m not completely sure, but I know that our band and our football team brings in a lot of money. So that could be a factor.
MN: I take AP and honors level classes. I also take one Tulane course.
What is your view on the academic opportunities distributed across the city?
MN: I believe that the lack of opportunities around the city can be considered universal. I’m not sure that there’s more opportunities for students, but a lot of kids aren’t represented.
WW: I feel that opportunities around New Orleans public schools aren’t fair. I believe there’s schools that receive opportunities, and there’s also schools that don’t. I don’t feel like it’s the location that rewards them these opportunities. I believe it’s the status of the school. The more recognition the school gets, the more opportunities each schools receives.
What are your goals while on the Student Advisory Council?
WW: My goals are to ensure that children who go to any school in New Orleans receive the best education no matter class or race. In today’s society you would see a school, such as Lusher, that’s more diverse in both race and class. In that school there’s AP classes and career-readiness classes. Opposed to Landry Walker, where the majority of the student body is of the minority, and there’s a minimum amount of opportunities.
MN: Well, on the council I hope to put in place some things that would benefit all schools. I’d love to see more robust classes, more opportunities, and internships and experiences that students can use to explore other interest.
If school is used to educate people, why doesn’t everyone receive a quality education? To the rest of the world New Orleans Education system isn’t “that bad.”
At least it’s better than before Katrina, many argue. It is only those who live within the system who truly recognizes the discrepancy. If New Orleans Education system wants to thrive, they need to shelter all of their school’s and not only those they could profit from. A quality education should be a right, not an opportunity. Maybe then that gleaming Orleans Parish School Board building won’t be a false advertisement for our educational systems.