November 10, 2011 § 2 Comments
After I explain what I am currently working on, often the first question people ask is, “Where is the school going to be?” Since the direct and honest answer to that question: “I don’t know” is not interesting, I generally answer the question I think they are asking instead which is usually a combination of:
- What are you considering as you think about the school’s eventual location?
- The middle class is going to be really picky about the neighborhood where they send their kids to school. What are you going to do about that?
- Just how serious are you about a diverse school? Are you really interested in creating a school that is inclusive of the New Orleans community, or is your goal to create a new school for “Uptowners” (usually code for the white upper middle class) with students of color bused in for the appearance of diversity?
- (If they are a parent) I want to manage my own enthusiasm for the school. I don’t want to get excited about a school that is too far away for my child to attend, so where is the school going to be?
Back in March, I had an email exchange with a friend after Bob Herbert’s “Separate but Unequal” Column in the NY Times.
Here’s (mostly) what I said at the time, which still holds true today:
- I wouldn’t be comfortable if the school was located in a primarily affluent neighborhood and all (or almost all) of the students from lower income families were bused in, while the students from higher income families were largely walking to school. That just wouldn’t feel right, nor align with the overall mission & identity of the school.
- I think most middle class parents want a school where they feel comfortable driving to and dropping off/picking up their kids.
- New Orleanians have shown that this could be in a community that has low(er) income, and far from uptown, so long as the area is not high in crime (see Ben Franklin HS and Holy Cross in Gentilly, for instance)
- But the school needs to be on a main through-fare for easy drop off/pick up access.
- I do think affluent parents would put their kids on a bus if:
- Their kids were at least middle school-aged
- They didn’t have to wake up ridiculously early
- They are undeniably confident that their child will be safe on that bus and will be safe when they are dropped off.
- I think the best solution is to find a location that is in a community that is already socio-economically diverse, can have a mix of kids walking & busing to school. Here, I think that means that the best locations could include: Broadmoor, Mid City, Bayou St. John, Lower Garden District, East Riverside/Irish Channel, Warehouse Dist, and Gentilly.
- The Bauduit Building at 3649 Laurel: Arthur Ashe Charter School‘s
current campus; they will be relocating to Gentilly soon.
- McDonogh #7 on Milan between Chestnut & Coliseum
- Hynes Charter School‘s current campus at 3774 Gentilly Boulevard (they’re moving back to a Lakeview Campus on Harrison Ave)
- Longer term, I have dreams of totally renovating the Milne Boys Home on Franklin Ave in Gentilly. It just seems like a natural place for at least an upper school (middle-high), and probably a full PreK – 12 campus. In fact, if you’re interested, check out the neighborland.com page on the Milne School campus. Maybe we can start a movement.