The problem with Orleans Parish schoolsgreenspun.com : LUSENET : School Board : One Thread
Could you please tell me what lies at the heart of the New Orleans public schools controversy?
-- Sandra Robertson (email@example.com), November 27, 2000
Being a 53 year old, fourth year elementary schoolteacher has overburdened my heart and conscious. I know that our national, state, and local governments are in search for the secret formula to solve our educational problems. What I have to say will probably shock the nation and end my short-lived career as an educator. Our children are not being educated in the title one schools.
Students are pledged with emotional, behavior, and medical problems. They cry out for help every minute of the day and no one seems to hear or care. Tears steam down my face as I attempt to expose the true problems in the American public classrooms. It is not a lack of books, materials, or technology. It is not the need of certified teachers or higher salaries. Our problem is physical and mental abuse being placed on our poor undeserving children. It starts at home and the big shocker is that it continues at school. Until our children make contact with those who sincerely care about them as people and future leaders in our communities, we face a no win solution.
We have teachers who come into the profession wanting to make a difference, good teachers, loving and caring teachers. Then reality sets in and there is not any help available. Everywhere you turn, you are told the children do not understand kindness. They only respond to abuse, critical and belittling remarks, and cruel treatment. We do not have the training needed to reach these poor damaged babies. In turn, we resort to extreme measures just to control their behavior and academics are placed on the back burner. I do not blame the children, parents, or teachers. I blame a country that is rich enough to feed the world, but chooses to ignore the emotional problems of its children. You have to know that something is wrong in the lives of these children.
Teachers cannot teach because the environment does not allow them to teach. Social workers do not seem to offer a solution either. Most of these children come from homes and families who need psychological treatment. They are victims of their environments. The government pours monies into communities in attempts to solve these problems, but no one follows through to see the implementations of all these wonderfully written proposals. Grants are granted, paper documentations are made, and more money is spent. It reminds me of our first government system, it did not take them long to realize the system need a check and balance component. Tell me, is checking into the lives and welfare of our children worth it.
This may seem like a no win problem to you, but something as simple as video camera in a classroom may prove to be an invaluable instrument. Doctors and researchers could extract valid data from which to draw conclusions and make prognosis. Be mindful, a picture is worth a thousand words. No more paper documentation that may be tainted with half-truths or false representation due to lapsed memories will dictate where the money goes or what are the results. It would not surprise me if students, parents, and educators would not benefit from some sort of therapy. As educators, we must learn to practice professional behavior in spite of problems we face, but this can be expected only if we can be assured that real help is on the way. Other wise, it simply becomes the survival of the fittest. I need not say who are the losers-the children.
It would take too long for me to paint the whole picture in this one correspondence, but I hope I have been vivid enough to start a true investigation into the dilemma of our under educated youths.
Cc: State Senators and Representatives CEO New Orleans Public Schools School Leadership of Greater New Orleans
-- Janice Brown-Currie (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 02, 2002.
I THINK THAT THE PROBLEM IS NOT ONLY WITH TEACHERS AND PARENTS, IT'S THE ENTIRE SYSTEM. IT IS A TRICKLE DOWN EFFECT. THE PAPER PUSHING AND MIS-COMMUNICATION AT THE SCHOOL BOARD ITSELF COUPLED WITH FRUSTRATED TEACHERS AND PARENTS. I CAN GIVE YOU TWO PERFECT EXAMPLES.
IN SEPTEMBER OF 1997 MY DAUGHTER HAD A FEVER OF 108 RESULTING IN BRAIN DAMAGE. SHE RETURNED TO SCHOOL A MONTH LATER OBVIOUSLY A DIFFERENT CHILD. SHE WAS ONLY IN THE FIRST GRADE AT THE TIME,BUT THERE WAS A PERFORMANCE CHANGE. IN JANUARY OF 1999 SHE WAS EDUCATIONALY EVALUATED AT OCHSNER HOSPITAL(USING THE SAME TEST THE SCHOOL BOARD GIVES) AND FOUND TO HAVE THE ABLILITY OF A 4.5 YEAR OLD CHILD. WHEN I RECEIVED THE OFFICIAL DOCUMENTATION I PRESENTED IT TO THE SCHOOL. IT WAS NOVEMBER OF 1999 BEFORE I TALKED TO ANYONE ON A SAT TEAM. I WAS TOLD THAT THE SCHOOL BOARD HAD 60 DAYS TO PLACE HER. KEEP IN MIND THAT THIS IS THE BEGINNIG OF HER THIRD GRADE YEAR, AND SHE WAS GOING TO BE TAKING THE LEAP TEST THE NEXT YEAR. THE NEXT TIME I HEARD FROM THE SCHOOL BOARD WAS FEBRUARY OF 2000. THE ONLY THING THE I GAINED FROM THAT MEETING WAS THE REJECTION OF OCHSNER'S EVALUATION AND THE FACT THE THE SCHOOL BOARD HAD TO DO THEIR OWN EVALUATION. OF COURSE, THAT WOULD BE ANOTHER 60 DAYS. THE SCHOOL YEAR ENDS.
NOW IT'S HER FOURTH GRADE YEAR. SHE IS STILL NOT RE-EVALUATED,AND I (HER VERY CONCERNED MOTHER) AM NOW FRUSTRATED. I CALLED EVERYONE I COULD CALL AT THE SPECIAL EDUCATION DEPT OF THE SCHOOL BOARD. OF COURSE I COULDN'T GET ANYONE DIRECTLY, SO I HAD TO LEAVE MESSAGES. FINALLY, I GOT THE COMPLAINT DEPT. WELL, WOULN'T YOU KNOW IT SHE WAS PLACED IN THE MIDDLE OF HER FOURTH GRADE YEAR WITHOUT A RE-EVALUATION. MIRACLES CAN HAPPEN WHEN YOU COMPLAIN, UNFORTUNATELY. GUESS WHAT? YOU KNOW WHAT. SHE FAILED THE LEAP. I FELT BADLY FOR HER BECAUSE, THE SYSTEM FAILED HER. SHE WENT TO EVERY PROGRAM DURING SCHOOL, SUMMER SCHOOL, LIGHTSPAN, WE DID IT ALL.... WE(HER PARENTS) WERE THE ONLY ONES WHO CARED!
THAT IS ONLY ONE SIDE OF THAT COIN. I HAVE A SON WHO WAS CONSIDERED A CANDIDATE FOR THE GIFTED PROGRAM IN THE SECOND GRADE. I MET WITH THE SAT TEAM AGAIN FOR HIM. WELL YOU KNOW 60 DAYS COME AND GO, AND THE SCHOOL YEAR ENDS. GUESS WHEN HE GETS TESTED AND PLACED? THE MIDDLE OF HIS FOURTH GRADE YEAR! I CAN ADMIT THAT THE ADMINISTRATION MOVED A LITTLE FASTER. THIS IS MY CONCLUSION, THERE ARE PARENTS THAT CARE. PARENTS THAT ARE GETTING FRUSTRATED BY THE PACE OF THE SCHOOL BOARD, THE STORIES ON THE NEWS, AND THE OBVIOUS LACK OF CONCERN FOR THE CHILDREN. I REALIZE THAT THERE ARE DICIPLINE PROBLEMS IN SCHOOLS, MY DAUGHTER WAS ONE OF THOSE PROBLEMS UNTIL SHE WAS PLACED. SHE WAS CONFUSED AND COULDN'T KEEP UP, AND THE SCHOOL BOARD DIDN'T CARE......!
-- LORI WAPLES (WAPLES2U@AOL.COM), June 24, 2003.
I worked in the New Orleans Public School System for four years. I came to New Orleans in 1996, having grown up, been educated and begun my teaching career in New York State.
New York State has a lot more money to throw at their educational problems, but the issues aren't essentially different from New Orleans. Buildings are crumbling, textbooks are outdated, the implementation of technology is inconsistent and the testing of students show confusing results - just like in New Orleans.
During my four years at Alcee Fortier High School I was initially expected to teach a remedial reading class without books; one set of newspapers per week was considered acceptable. I literally had to beg a private school for their discarded READERS' DIGEST magazines to have additional material for my students. Since I was hired under TITLE ONE I had expected to have my basic classroom supplies met. They weren't. I spent over one thousand dollars per year buying books, magazines and supplies for my classroom. The TITLE ONE representative from the school board stopped by twice in the four years I worked there. She told me hadn't been by to see me because there were classes in worse shape than mine!
My ninth grade students arrived with tested composite academic skills of a fifth grade level. I assessed many who read at well below a fifth grade level. Some were able to raise their reading levels two or three grade levels in a year. Some were not. Remember, most newspapers and magazines in this country are written assuming at least an eighth grade level of reading proficiency. I tried to find lower level reading materials for students who needed them.
TITLE ONE did give my classroom ten computers. They were never properly installed and I had very little useful educational software to offer students who needed remediation in Language Arts. I did have a typing tutorial, games and word processing. TITLE ONE didn't seem to be concerned about vandalism of these resources either; other than a motion detector at the door, the computers weren't secured. Students made a game of destroying keyboards and mouse drivers whenever my back was turned.
Fortier had many low achieving students when I was there, but I still can point to successes. I had one student, who was from a single- parent family with nine siblings, who rose from a C student to salutatorian with my guidance and her hard work. I had another young man, who was failing my class, yet he found direction for a career in cooking after several talks with me. The young lady is now in college, on a full scholarship. The young man is now a banquet manager. Both of these successes came from teacher involvement beyond the classroom, seeking the help of others and lots of prayer.
I could cite many instance of poor use of funds and time that I saw while working at Fortier. More importantly, I saw parents who were working two or three minimum wage jobs struggling to get to parent/teacher conferences. I saw Grandmas trying to raise grandchildren when the parents weren't there. I saw teachers trying to better themselves through professional workshops, advanced degrees and certifications. I saw many people trying to save our children and willing to try anything that would guarantee a better future for these children.
The problems in New Orleans aren't going to go away in a year. Coming up with a slogan, a t-shirt, a committee, a new school board, a new superintendent, state intervention or a charter school system aren't answer. We need to continue to examine our resources and look for ways to fund needed items. I wrote grants while I was at Fortier. Most teachers do. We need to continue to reach out to parents and the community for support. We need to continue to pray for our students' futures and how each of us can help them achieve their personal best.
-- Nanci Conti Schlumbrecht (email@example.com), June 25, 2003.