Je ne regrette rien

New Orleans Education: Parents Association Denied

In this post, I discuss the observations that I have made while volunteering at my daughter’s school. Some of the observations were disturbing, some disheartening, and just plain frightening to me, not only as a mother, but someone relatively new to the “public school system” in New Orleans.  I’ve been in the unique situation to speak to both teachers and parents about the apparent disconnect between school, staff, parent, and child and really wanted to do something about it¹ and I created a proposal to start a Parent Association at my daughter’s school. I even volunteered my efforts to its creation and implementation.

I spent a great deal of time researching urban education models and parent associations and the comparisons of a parent association to the PTO/PTA model. I also spend a great deal of time researching the effectiveness of parent associations, particularly in urban communities and in communities that are under-funded, unfortunately something that generally goes hand-in-hand. This isn’t a concept new to the school, as it was mentioned previously by a school social worker and the principal to meet with them about getting this going. Currently, our school has nothing – no PTO, no parent association, nor a parent teacher liason that actually does their job. ²

I received a response yesterday denying the creation of my proposed parent assocation. I was told that an administrator would have to be involved and that currently, the school was not ready for this internally.

What?

You have a parent here who is trying to make a difference in your school, reduce the complaints of staff being over-worked, and helping parents, teachers, and students be on the same path for a better education and you are denying the creation of such a powerful tool? Come again? It has nothing to do with budget. This parent association wouldn’t require one single cent of the school’s funding.

My proposed parent association would not be a fund-raising effort. There needs to be a base of support outside of school administration for parents and children before fund-raising could even be considered, and in an urban area full of crime like New Orleans, I don’t think selling candy bars is really a great idea. That point was met with agreement, actually. Essentially, the proposal included real support for students and teachers like a homeroom parent³, school-wide newsletter produced regularly informing parents on important things like days off from school well in advance, progress the school is making, and upcoming events. Currently, parents are given a note a few days before school is scheduled to be out, the date of LEAP test hasn’t been communicated, and we have no idea why there are people walking around the school with blue prints and visitor passes. Weekly newsletters from teachers letting parents know what will be expected for homework the coming week, so there can be no excuses of not knowing what the homework assignments are for, or letting parents know of class achievements and recognition of students doing well that week. If it were not for the fact that I volunteer in my daughter’s classroom, I would not know most of the children in her class. Quite frankly, I believe that is tragic.

Small steps that could mean so much.

Denied.

Do schools REALLY want parents to get involved, as they cheer-lead in orientations before school starts, or do they really want to be in charge of it all and hope that parents will simply comply with the status quo?

School by Supertramp

1. Because I am foolish and have this whole save the world to make it a better place complex.

2. The same staff member I talking about smacking her child aside the head.

3. Something the school sent sign up forms for in September and have yet to do anything about the information they collected.

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4 Responses

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  1. liprap said, on February 7, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    It’s terrible. This is a very basic thing that all schools have, and to have it dismissed like this is just an awful thing.

    Who is on the board that is running this school? Hmmm, looks like a group that calls itself the Choice Foundation:

    http://www.lafayetteacademyno.org/schoolboard.php

    http://choicefoundation.org/boardofdirectors.htm

    Are there any notices regarding when their meetings are? That might be the next place to go.

  2. Isabel said, on February 8, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Try registering your child at Lusher.

    My friends’ go there. The parents are very active.

    • Amy said, on February 8, 2009 at 11:45 am

      Lusher has a very long waiting list and everyone is on lottery. That is really what is essentially wrong with the way the school system in New Orleans is set up right now. Very few schools with their acts together, everyone knows what schools they are, so they flock there. Or else they send them to private school. 😦

  3. pistolette said, on February 9, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Yeah, dealing with mindless bureaucracy is one of the reasons I, as many longtime locals do, will scrap together what I can and send my kids to private school if they don’t get into the good charters. Plain old Orleans public school is not an option to us since they have been a disappointment for so long.


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