Teaching & Learning Blog

Student Stories: A New Orleans Classroom Chronicle

Students at the Center is a 12-year-old writing and digital-media program for students in two New Orleans high schools, co-directed by educators Jim Randels and Kalamu ya Salaam. This blog is no longer being updated.

Education Opinion Farewell Blog: No Choice
The Students at the Center community is bidding a few farewells this summer, including one to this blog. Today’s entry is our last, and in it we want to share and explain two of our other farewells: one that’s by choice and one that we feel results from us not having the choice we’d like.
Jim Randels, July 15, 2008
4 min read
Education Opinion Learning to Read and Think
A key feature of SAC work is what students learn as they are in our classes and as they are training to work as staff members. Today’s entries by Naila Campbell, McMain 2008 graduate and emerging staff member, and Alexandra Lear, 2007 McMain graduate and current SAC staff member, illustrate this process. Both essays were written in the three-week workshop for New Orleans Public School teachers, SAC staff, and rising SAC interns that we just completed.
Jim Randels, June 29, 2008
4 min read
Education Opinion Liberatory Education: Two Essays
Today’s blog features two writings from the three-week workshop in writing, critical pedagogy, and digital media SAC just completed for the New Orleans public school system. A regular feature of SAC work is to work in settings where teachers and students are learning from each other. The pair of writings we share today illustrates that practice.
Jim Randels, June 27, 2008
7 min read
Education Opinion Vietnamese Identity and Culture
During the last week of May and the first three weeks of June, Students at the Center staff, graduates, and students have been leading two separate workshops for teachers in the New Orleans Public Schools.
Jim Randels, June 20, 2008
7 min read
Education Opinion New Orleans, Kenya, Vietnam
After Katrina, there has been a lot of talk of citizen participation and its increase in New Orleans. At Douglass we have been experiencing this in a range of ways: absence of many pre-Katrina school and community leaders because of difficulty of returning, neighborhood residents building renewed commitment to and work in public education, and hindrances to full community involvement by policy restrictions, conflicting visions for the school, and lack of full, careful communication and consensus among all stakeholders.
Jim Randels, May 31, 2008
6 min read
Education Opinion Separate But Equal Revisitied
Today we feature one student’s reflections about the public school facilities issue in New Orleans. Alexandra Lear, a 2007 graduate of McMain Secondary School and staff member with Students at the Center, shares these thoughts as the city is going through a massive and controversial planning process for school facilities. As her essay illustrates, questions about equity in public school facilities are still a major issue in New Orleans.
Jim Randels, May 25, 2008
4 min read
Education Opinion Honoring Frederick Douglass?
On Tuesday, May 6, the Recovery School District (RSD) superintendent, Paul Vallas, was 30 minutes late for a community meeting to discuss the school system’s plans for Douglass High School. Over 100 people attended, including well over half of the school’s faculty, who were eager to have an opportunity to hear directly from the superintendent.
Jim Randels, May 8, 2008
5 min read
Education Opinion First Book, Closing School
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.
Jim Randels, May 4, 2008
2 min read
Education Opinion Algebra Project at Douglass and Beyond
Prior to Katrina, community involvement at Douglass High School was building and took a variety of forms. One of the most important was the weekly adult math literacy class hosted by the Douglass Community Coalition in collaboration with the New Orleans Algebra Project.
Jim Randels, April 22, 2008
3 min read
Education Opinion Vallas Claims No Community Involvement
This week has been busy with responses to the April 7 announcement of the impending closing of Douglass High School.
Jim Randels, April 18, 2008
5 min read
Education Opinion Who's Holding the Gun?
Yesterday we learned officially that Frederick Douglass High School will close within the next two years and maybe even next year. This decision came without input from students, their parents, teachers, or community members.
Jim Randels, April 8, 2008
5 min read
Education Opinion Consultants Trump Community
Our SAC team shared this essay last night in one of the sessions of the College Composition and Communication Conference, at which our school-based writing community presented at five different conference events for college English professors from across the country.
Jim Randels, April 6, 2008
7 min read
Education Opinion School Choice
New Orleans has some new winter and spring rituals for public education. Starting in January, our streets are lined with signs advertising different charter schools. A month ago, a couple of local organizations sponsored a major school fair on a Saturday. Yard signs, email announcements, and flyers at schools abounded. But on the day of the fair, more school representatives than parents were in attendance. In fact attendance was so poor that the deadline for applying to schools was pushed back a few weeks.
Jim Randels, April 1, 2008
3 min read
Education Opinion Finding SAC Class
This is the time of year when students begin to select courses for the next school year. Students at the Center classes have always been open to any student at the school. In some cases students choose our classes. In other cases, counselors simply place them in our classes for reasons we as teachers never know.
Jim Randels, March 27, 2008
2 min read