Good Old Days? Curious…

Jan 13, 2012 by

I was alerted via Twitter about this new book by mathematician Dr. Beverly J. Anderson concerning her schooling in the Seventh Ward in the 1950’s  and was intrigued:

Creole culture in the Seventh Ward was rooted in close family ties, hard work, creativity, high expectations, independence, the Golden Rule, Catholicism, shared language/manner of speaking, and a shared sense of belonging to a unique community. Teachers, parents, and principals—all African Americans—valued education and set high standards for student achievement. According to interviews with twelve of the author’s classmates, these beliefs, along with the unwavering support of parents and teachers, helped to produce competitive individuals in all walks of life. The Creole culture was also rooted in racial, ethnic, and religious segregation that affected individuals in surprising ways.

Anderson also examines the history of public and Catholic education for children of color in the Seventh Ward of New Orleans and addresses the impact of the school on the community and vice versa.

This has been a particularly tough week in New Orleans all around for education and for the community at large, what with a bloody Wednesday that also included a school lockdown and the election of RSD superintendent John White (unrelated to his namesake bar) to head the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, further tipping the entire state’s schools toward charterization and decentralization, further absolving the Board of any responsibility when things go bad at the schools while simultaneously removing the input of the community into who runs their schools.

I was asked by Dr. Anderson how I see the community impacting education and vice versa these days, and, though I haven’t read her book yet, I see that the community is being shoved aside more and more in the charterizing process and the rush to use test scores as the ultimate measure for how our kids are doing. It is also shoving the teachers themselves aside, catching them between a rock and a hard place in terms of their kids’ needs and the very life of the schools in which they teach. The violence outside the school doors doesn’t help much, either. These are my knee-jerk reactions to her query…and I’m one of the fairly fortunate parents seeing all of this.

I look forward to reading Dr. Anderson’s memoir. I just wish for an idyll for all here these days.


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