Take a look at the schedule. I think it's a pretty good one. There's a panel on hidden local history. There are presentations on community organizing and civic engagement. There is a "religion panel" where representatives from a diverse sampling of faith based communities will talk about their role in post-Katrina recovery. Not to mention also the "Tech School" component where local internet activists, businesspeople, and hobbyists share tips and tricks.
The keynote speaker is Dr. Andre Perry. Here is some of his bio lifted from his web page.
On July 1, 2013, Dr. Andre Perry became the Founding Dean of Urban Education at Davenport University in Grand Rapids, MI. Dr. Perry is responsible for planning and launching Davenport’s new College of Urban Education. Dr. Perry serves as the chief architect and advocate for the College, building relationships within the University and collaborations with external constituencies in order to build a program that will be a pioneer in urban education. As the strategic leader of the College, he develops and implements a vision and a plan for the College of Urban Education as an innovative and dynamic new force in preparing teachers and leaders for success in urban schools.A couple of years ago, Perry turned his experience with education reform in New Orleans into a fictionalized examination of its many challenges. The Garden Path: The Miseducation Of A City is just out of print although, at that link there, you can see there are two copies available at Octavia Books as of this writing. Also the public library has a copy. Peruse the remainder of his bio for Dr. Perry's many other credits. He has been a frequent commenter on education in local and national media.
Prior to, he was the Associate Director for Educational Initiatives for the Loyola Institute for Quality and Equity in Education. Dr. Perry created academic and enrichment opportunities for Loyola University as well as for primary and secondary students in the metro area. Before Loyola, he served as the CEO of the Capital One-University of New Orleans Charter Network, which was comprised of four charter schools in New Orleans. In 2010, Perry served on Mayor-Elect Mitch Landrieu’s Transition Team as the co-chair of the Education Taskforce.
Dr. Perry is an idealist. His latest column for The Hechinger Report where he is a regular contributor is titled "How the ideal student experience would look in NOLA"
This public school is not designed to build up poor children, and a picture of the parent association could not be lifted from a society page. Local history is honored, but its curriculum is built to not repeat the man-made disasters of the past. Its rigorous liberal arts curriculum is rooted in five pillars. Chief among the pillars is: all students will responsibly pursue truth. Second, resources are equitably dedicated to the intellectual, emotional, and physical wellbeing of every child. Third, depth is preferred over breadth. Fourth, the values of fairness, generosity and tolerance must be demonstrated in teacher, student, and caretakers’ behavior. And fifth, teaching and learning should be documented and assessed with tools based on student’s performances on real tasks.
Dr. Perry is also a realist. This is from a recent Washington Post article by him titled, "The attack on bad teacher tenure laws is actually an attack on black professionals"
Blacks are more likely to live in states where teachers cannot bargain collectively, and Southern states still have a higher share of black teachers. Labor laws have not been favorable to black workers.
My work in New Orleans showed me what can happen when black teachers lose protections. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans School Board summarily and illegally fired its 7,500 teachers and staff. Based on 2000 census data, nearly 5 percent of New Orleans blacks lost their jobs with that decision. Then, citing the absence of teachers (who had evacuated), the board chose not to renew the collective bargaining agreement with United Teachers of New Orleans. The (mostly black) teachers were gone, and there followed no systemic effort to recruit the best ones back.
Nine years later, New Orleans reformers rave about growth on test scores. But the quality of any reform must be measure against other quality of life measures to see the broader impact. The share of New Orleans’s black middle- and upper-income households dipped from 35 percent to 31 percent, while their white counterparts increased from 60 percent to 68 percent.Whites on average are paid twice as much as blacks. Education reform, by extracting so many working-age blacks from their jobs (and, subsequently, from the middle class), has exacerbated these trends.
The speech Perry has prepared for Saturday is titled "Education is like water; put down your reform rake"
Rakes don’t organize water very well. Likewise, charter schools, vouchers and lotteries aren't the proper tools to deal with the root problems of New Orleans education. New Orleans public schools must become a “unified school district” if the needs of children, families and communities are to be met. Getting, private and parochial school parents to believe we’re all in this together has been and will be the essential problem that needs solving.
Rising Tide 9 is this Saturday, September 13 at the Xavier University UC (1 Drexel Dr.) Tickets are ridiculously inexpensive. Here is how to register.