The unsuccessful state of public schools in the nation is epitomized by the devastation of the city of New Orleans and the New Orleans Schools. Inner city and racial achievement gaps that had been ignored before Hurricane Katrina were impossible to ignore once the districts had to be rebuilt. The biggest challenge in rebuilding the New Orleans Schools seems to reflect the overall problem with public education in the United States. While everyone seems to have an opinion, no one really knows the best way to educate our children.
Helping Parents Adapt to the New Orleans Schools
Many former students of the New Orleans Schools are still scattered in other cities around the nation. But for those who returned to the emerging new system, the past school year has been confusing and often frenzied. Low-income parents and parents with little education are rarely comfortable in academic settings. But these are the people who the New Orleans Schools need to reach out to most.
A coalition of community groups has come together to create a parents’ guide to the new New Orleans Schools. The New Orleans Parents’ Guide to Public Schools contains a ton of information on the school options available, how to obtain lost documents, childcare, and picking the best school for your child.
The guide lists all 69 of the new New Orleans Schools, maps, photos, how to register, and transportation for each. The goal of the guide is two-fold. First, it aims to make parents more comfortable with the New Orleans Schools. Second, it tries to make accessing the information they need as convenient as possible. A list of locations where parents of children in the New Orleans Schools can pick up the book is available at www.nolaparentsguide.org
The book's editor, Aesha Raheed, said, “Empowering all of our families is a critical step for us to redesign public education in New Orleans. We're focused on student achievement and academic outcomes. We have an opportunity to push us in that direction. We're redefining what the expectations of public education are. . . and making sure our students get the best education they can. ”
Challenges of Low Income Populations
Educators in New Orleans Schools are intimately familiar with the challenges of educationing “at-risk” populations. Children who come from poverty, who have poorly educated parents, or absent parents, or live in dangerous environments, are more likely to suffer from attention issues, undiagnosed learning disabilites, and to struggle in school. As a result of Hurricane Katrina, many of these children in the New Orleans Schools are now dealing with post-traumatic shock issues as well.
The one unexpected benefit of the devastating hurricane is that the New Orleans Schools are being rebuilt from the ground up. Administrators, educators, and parents of the New Orleans Schools district are creating new public schools, charter schools and other initiatives designed to provide all children with adequate public education.
Patricia Hawke is a staff writer for Schools K-12, providing free, in-depth reports on all U. S. public and private K-12 schools. For more information please visit New Orleans Schools