Opinion
Education Opinion

First Book, Closing School

By Jim Randels — May 04, 2008 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Today’s entry is from Kirsten Theodore, who will graduate in June 2008 from Frederick Douglass High School, which she has described in a previous essay in this blog series as her dream school.

This Tuesday (May 6, 2008) she along with a number of friends of Douglass High School, will meet with Paul Vallas, the Recovery School District superintendent who “moved” (his family remains in Chicago where he continues to float plans for another run for governor of Illinois) to New Orleans less than a year ago.

He has brought with him a number of consultants and programs and plans. Unfortunately, he has not spent time finding out what has worked for students such as Kirsten and how to support and improve those programs and schools.

We continue to worry about changes in a public school system that happen without deep study of and respect for those of us who learned and worked and read our first books in that very school system.

First Book I Ever Read
Kirsten Theodore

I can remember the first book I ever read. It was about a woman traveling back in time where she happened to run into her ancestors. Ever since I read it, I’ve wondered about my own ancestors.

I was in sixth grade when I first received the book. A couple of Students at the Center (SAC) members and I had just finished performing a play about Homer Plessy and the fight for racial justice in New Orleans. All of the SAC members were in school at Frederick Douglass High, but I wasn’t. My cousin and sister were working with UrbanHeart, an after school program that involved Douglass SAC students helping those of us who were younger with reading and writing and performing.

After rehearsal one day, Mr. Randels was getting ready to take me home. We got into the car, and it was dead silent. “So Kirsten, what books have you read lately?” he asked.

What a way to break the silence, I thought to myself.

“Um The Cat in the Hat I think.”

“Well we got to change that. I got some books in the back, if you’re interested.”

“Ok,” I replied.

I reached into the back and grabbed the stack of books he had sitting on the seat. I went through all the books, and one stood out to me, Kindred, just because it started with a k. I decided that this would be the book that I wouldn’t read.

We arrived in front of my house. As I was getting out Mr. Randels said, “that’s a good book you chose.”

“Ok, thanks.”

I went inside to my room and threw the book on the dresser with no intentions of reading it. A week passed, and I didn’t even look at the book. That next Tuesday I got punished for skipping school. So I was stuck inside with no TV. Since I had nothing to do, I had to find ways to occupy my time. First I tried exercising, but I got tired too fast. Then I tried cleaning, but the bleach was getting to me. Finally I tried studying, but I lost interest. So I just flopped on my bed and counted the dots on the ceiling. Out of my peripheral vision I saw the book. I went over picked it up and started reading Octavia Butler’s Kindred.

The opinions expressed in Student Stories: A New Orleans Classroom Chronicle are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Education Insights with Actionable Data to Create More Personalized Engagement
The world has changed during this time of pandemic learning, and there is a new challenge faced in education regarding how we effectively utilize the data now available to educators and leaders. In this session
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education California Makes Ethnic Studies a High School Requirement
California is among the first in the nation to require students to take a course in ethnic studies to get a diploma starting in 2029-30.
4 min read
FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2020, file photo, Democratic Assembly members, from left, James Ramos, Chris Holden Jose Medina, and Rudy Salas, Jr., right, huddle during an Assembly session in Sacramento, Calif. Medina's bill to make ethnic studies a high school requirement was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Education California Requires Free Menstrual Products in Public Schools
The move comes as women’s rights advocates push nationwide for affordable access to pads, tampons, and other items.
1 min read
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Education Florida to Dock School District Salaries for Requiring Masks
Florida is set to dock salaries and withhold funding from local school districts that defied Gov. Ron DeSantis' ban on mask mandates.
2 min read
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Education More Than 120,000 U.S. Kids Had Caregivers Die During Pandemic
The toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans, a new study suggests.
3 min read
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021 file photo, a funeral director arranges flowers on a casket before a service in Tampa, Fla. According to a study published Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, by the medical journal Pediatrics, the number of U.S. children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic may be larger than previously estimated, and the toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)