Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

New Orleans’ Segregated Schools—Amy Biedermann

It isn’t enough for us to simply fight the good fight–we must WIN the good fight.

I’m paraphrasing a portion of the keynote address from the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center’s annual conference that I had the opportunity to attend last week. Held every year to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, the “Fit for King” conference featured speakers and panels discussing the reality and implications of modern day segregation in the US.

I attended the conference primarily to learn more about GNOFHAC’s work in housing advocacy, particularly as it pertains to what we do at BDC.  When I had the option to choose from several topics being offered at once, I decided to attend a panel on segregation in local schools simply because I know very little about education reform in New Orleans despite it being a hotly debated issue.

Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center's Fit For King Conference: Are we winning the struggle to end segregation?

Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center’s Fit For King Conference: Are we winning the struggle to end segregation?

The panel was comprised of an interesting array of speakers including a journalist who writes about contemporary segregation in southern schools, a board member of a local charter school, and a New Orleans middle school teacher who is also a parent.  They described an ongoing trend of parents choosing to send their children to schools where they will be a part of the racial majority.  The problem with this is that the real world is diverse and children need to learn that everyone is more alike than they are different.  The charter school representative said her new school had achieved an integrated student body by getting parents of different races in the same room together and asking everyone what they wanted for their children.  The answer (from all parents) was a quality education, a safe place to grow up, and the chance for a good future.

Particularly relevant when considering segregation in New Orleans schools and the effect this has on the future of the city.

Particularly relevant when considering segregation in New Orleans schools and the effect this has on the future of the city.

In the spirit of MLK Day, I challenge everyone to strike up a conversation with someone you think you have nothing in common with.  You might learn something new. Or you might not.  But you’ll never know unless you actually try it.

Additionally, Broadmoor Development Corporation extends its warmest thanks to the Tulane VISTA and Bard College volunteers who spent their “day on” in service to the Broadmoor neighborhood.

Amy Biedermann

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This entry was posted on January 20, 2014 by in VISTA Field Reports and tagged , , , , , , .

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