Ashana Bigard

From New Orleans, Warnings for Texas About School Privatization

My prayers are with you, Texas. My memories are with you too. The day after Katrina hit New Orleans, my family and I made the 17 hour car ride to Houston. The people of Texas welcomed us, opening their homes and helping us out with clothing, even financial assistance. As a native New Orleanian, I wish that I could do the same for you now. But what’s happened in my city and to its schools serves as a cautionary tale to residents of Houston. Reeling from the disaster, our communities were scattered like the four winds. I returned from Houston, many of us did, but the New Orleans we left doesn’t belong to us anymore.

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New Orleans Charter Schools Are Punishing Students for Being Poor

When a New Orleans charter school made headlines recently for kicking out two homeless students because they didn’t have the right uniforms, people were shocked. They shouldn’t have been. Suspending poor students for “non-compliance” when they can’t afford to buy the right shoes, pants or sweaters is standard operating procedure in our all-charter-school education system. More than a decade after Hurricane Katrina, poverty in the city is worse than ever, even as rents have doubled during the past decade. Yet students and their parents are routinely punished—even criminalized—just for being poor.

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Confederate Statues Are Down in New Orleans, but Structural Racism Still Stands Tall in Our Schools

Many New Orleanians celebrated at the removal of confederate monuments around the city in recent weeks. But on the same day that Robert E. Lee’s bronzed image came down from Lee Circle, two black boys (like hundreds of boys throughout the city and state of Louisiana) were not allowed to graduate for arbitrary, punitive, and potentially illegal reasons.

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