Congratulations to the folks from Fyre Youth Squad, Finding Our Folk, the Hot 8 Brass Band, and other grassroots organizations who brought together the Blowout Consciousness Youth Town Hall Event on Saturday.
With more than 150 people in attendance, the sponsoring organizations presented an amazing array of local talent and an enlightening living history lesson on the integration of New Orleans schools, presented by the real people who made it happen. The event also brought together tremendous participation on the part of young people and adults from around the city.
The assembled crowd broke into town hall discussion groups and produced reports that were then crafted by a policy panel into a solid document that will be used as the basis of the youth agenda for equity in New Orleans schools campaign.
This campaign will be kicked off in 2010 by the New Orleans Youth Collab, which is made up of Fyre Youth Squad, Rethink, the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association (VAYLA) and Young Adults Striving for Success (YASS).
Below are the 15 recommendations/demands for New Orleans Schools that were made by the Town Hall Discussion groups:
We, the students demand...
* Teachers should receive excellent pre-service and continuing education that allows them to develop better interactive relationships with students, excellent learning opportunities for the students, high expectations for all students, and appropriate classroom management strategies.
* Teachers should learn to be mentors of students inside and outside the classroom rather than just distribute information so that the students’ voices can be heard and valued.
* Students believe that education should reflect a participatory democracy where students are involved in decision-making in the schools. Administrators and students should work together.
* The focus in schools should be on education.
* The large number of armed guards in schools and an over-emphasis on non-instructional issues such as dress codes create an environment that is not conducive to educational achievement and responsible decision-making
* Each school should increase activities in outdoor and open spaces.
Learning and Instructional Resources
* To ensure a smaller student: teacher ratio, implement a mandatory cap on class sizes.
* More technology and computer classes to learn current software, including but not limited to, web design and management.
* Expand the art and music programs to include diverse musical styles, increased and better quality instruments and supplies.
* More afterschool and extracurricular activities that are not just sports.
* More and better qualified school counselors
* Instruction in life skills
Curriculum and Assessment
* Rather than use standardized tests to punish students or hold them back, design tests to inform students and teachers about strengths and weaknesses
* Prepare students for the ACT and the SAT so they can compete nationally instead of state standardized tests that can hold kids back.
* Develop collective student/parent/ teacher assessment to set goals and make improvements for the year.