New Orleans is Stronger With Neighborhood Schools

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New Orleans is Stronger With Neighborhood Schools

A community is much stronger with neighborhood schools. This has been the conventional thought for decades. However, I may be a bit lost and need assistance to clue me in as to why they no longer exist in New Orleans? I understand the need for school reform, parental choice in choosing schools and a one app process which seeks to consolidate the application process. I get all of that and then some.

However, what I am struggling to get is why does it have to be done at the expense of neighborhood schools and fragment our ability to  sustain strong communities? There has to be a recognition of interrelated issues and how they impact our ability to work as a collective community when considering such changes.

This leads me to wonder if we are making policy decisions in isolation, not considering the consequences such change could have on cohesiveness and the role it plays in assisting communities in solving pressing social and economic challenges?

It’s no secret; neighborhood schools connect students, parents, and neighborhood groups, which fosters cohesion and community power. Without such connections, it’s difficult for a community to develop the level of networks and relationships needed to support the schools let alone come together as neighbors to address issues in the community if there is no linkage beyond busing children in and out of neighborhoods.

Why even discuss this? We should discuss this because New Orleans is a resource limited city with countless social and economic challenges. If we are to have any hope of mitigating our challenges we will need greater cohesion among citizens within our neighborhoods working together to strengthen community building networks.

Instead it appears we are going in the opposite direction which fragments connections and further limits community building potential and involvement.

I am not sure if it’s too late, but one thing is certain, if we care about creating strong communities in New Orleans, we need to care about having neighborhood schools and fight for their existence because our city is stronger with them.

Eric Anthony Johnson, Ph.D

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