If We Really Want to Change Our Schools, We Need to Get Real About What's Happening in Them

Dec 12, 2018 12:00:00 AM

by Dana Wade

Thirteen years after Hurricane Katrina and the reunification of all schools under the governing of Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB), we are still having conversations about how to make schools better. It’s truly heartbreaking as parents to hear about and witness certain situations happening on a daily basis in education. Before we, The Parent "Advocators," continue, we would like to drop this disclaimer: If you can’t handle the truth being told about what is really going on in our schools, are you truly open to making a change in education?! How can schools that are failing our kids improve? The answer to this question rarely has time to develop. Conversations and panels are held, but more times than not there is rarely a solution found. It is not discussed due to time restraints, parent/community involvement, and too many people that are present for reasons other than our children. In this educational arena, many people have their own agendas at the expense of our children and families. So, it leaves us to question when the solution will actually be discussed and when will the right people be invited to the discussion table. Recently, The Parent “Advocators” was part of a panel, “The State of Charter Schools in New Orleans.” What was depressing were the number of people that weren’t in attendance. Many complain about charter schools and schools as a whole in New Orleans, so, where were you? The venue should have been standing room only. Don’t get us wrong, panels and community discussions are great and we support them, but we feel [pullquote position="right"]it’s time to change things up and allow those most affected by this system to be heard.[/pullquote] It’s time to allow those whom we are making the decisions for speak on their own behalf. Leaders need to step back, take a seat, and open their ears to who they’re truly impacting and the effect it is having and the changes that need to be made. Why not allow a different set of voices to be heard? The different voices that we need at the table are our scholars and families. Now is the time for change and togetherness. We should all be asking ourselves, “Who else is there to help bring this change? Who would bring value to these education conversations?” With change and solutions comes being open to hearing from those who have the knowledge on how to make it happen and those living the situations daily. Authenticity and realness is what’s needed in today’s educational landscape. We speak on behalf of our scholars and families as if they can’t speak for themselves. When changes are made that don’t necessarily benefit them and they challenge the leaders, we want to deem it disrespectful or an interruption. If they were allowed the platform and opportunity to have a voice to speak beforehand then it wouldn’t be such a divide, and definitely trust would return to education. [pullquote]Stop making demands, choices and changes unless you’re willing to hear from those that feel it the most. [/pullquote]Until these factors are worked on, there will still be a disconnect and a divide. This needs to be addressed now! It must be worked on today and fixed yesterday so that situations will be resolved. Our children don’t have to time waste. There is one more aspect that must be addressed if we are really going to change how we operate in education. Certain people lately have been on social media calling out OPSB, CEOs, community leaders and advocates. Now keep in mind, those same folks are the ones that show up only when cameras are rolling and those leaders are in the building, but they aren’t truly making an impact themselves. They’re showing up not to do something productive but to be seen. Please stop pretending to care when it’s a benefit to you or your brand. Our children don’t need brands they need advocates and solutions. Stop calling out others when you yourself aren’t making a mark in becoming a change maker. Help with fixing the problem instead of creating new issues. False stories and make believe won’t allow our scholars to become great! Stop the foolery! There are some great changes and positive steps being made to improve education in New Orleans. We would like to applaud Mayor Cantrell on understanding the need for not just leaders in education to support our scholars and families but also understanding it takes all of us working together and supporting families to assure their success. We acknowledge Orleans Parish School Boards for all of the improvements that have been made thus far to improve education in New Orleans. We acknowledge those charter organizations that are exceeding in leading our children to a high-quality education. As a community, [pullquote position="left"]we have to learn how to work together and how to empower and support each other.[/pullquote] Stop making divides. It doesn’t have to be us against them. Do this for our kids and be real with yourselves. This job is hard work, and requires long hours with minimal pay. But, it can be done. Voices have power. People like the mayor, community leaders, parents, educators are just some of the people ,we, The Parent “Advocators,” feel is needed to start the conversation to come to a real solution. Now, let’s see if these parties are willing to step up and make it happen. The ball is in your court. The challenge is on!
An original version of this piece appeared on The Second Line Education Blog as "Same Ole’ Conversations…'Now, Where Are the Solutions?'".

Dana Wade

Dana Wade was born and raised in New Orleans and is a mother to three wonderful and bright children. She is highly involved in her children’s school—Andrew Wilson Charter School. In partnership with other parents at Wilson, Dana led efforts to develop Wilson’s Parent-Teacher Association and to start a girls mentoring program for fourth-eighth-grade students called Young Ladies Who Rock. Dana strongly believes that all scholars whether they be in traditional, charter, or private schools should be exposed to the same educational goals, expectations and motivations to succeed. Her dedication to the students of New Orleans led Dana to start the non-profit organization, The Parent Advocators, to ensure that parent voice was at the forefront in demanding a high-quality education for all New Orleans students.

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