To the Editor:
As featured subjects of the article “New Teachers Search for Place in New Orleans” (April 24, 2013), we would like to share our reactions to the story with Education Week readers.
The article highlights many points that we were happy to see in print, such as the high percentage of inexperienced teachers in post-Katrina New Orleans and the changed racial makeup of the teaching force. We found the framing of the article to be misleading, however.
By quoting numerous spokespeople for the corporate-reform agenda (Teach For America, the Recovery School District, and charter school chains, among others) but only quoting two of the many dissenting voices in the city, this article diminishes the multiracial, intergenerational movement of locals and transplants, including parents, students, and educators, that has been resisting this anti-democratic restructuring of New Orleans public schools since the start.
A more balanced report would have included quotes from research organizations such as Research on Reforms or the Urban South Grassroots Research Collective; or parent-advocates like Karran Harper Royal or Ashana Bigard; or interviews with high school students Terrell Major or Meagan McKinnon of United Students of New Orleans about their experiences with TFA teachers; or veteran teacher and United Teachers of New Orleans Vice President Jim Randels about the rich history of community-led efforts to improve schools since long before Hurricane Katrina.
Ignoring these voices reinforces the false narrative that black New Orleanians were not, and are not, engaged in the work of improving their schools. We hope to see this community-led movement portrayed respectfully by Education Week in the future.
Hannah Sadtler & Derek Roguski
New Teachers’ Roundtable
New Orleans, La.
Editor’s Note: Parent-advocates Karran Harper Royal and Ashana Bigard; high school junior Terrell Major; United Teachers of New Orleans staff members; and former New Orleans public school teacher Damekia Morgan were interviewed for the article. Although they were not quoted, the reporter drew on their views in framing the story.
A version of this article appeared in the May 22, 2013 edition of Education Week as Dissenting Voices Shortchanged In New Orleans Article