Last night Xy’s school had an open house. Twenty parents came by to talk with Xy. Most were from her own class of 25, some from the other two classes in the 6th grade. That’s a lot. In fact, Xy said she hasn’t seen so many parents at an open house since she taught at a Catholic school!
We speculated on why this might be the case. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the Algiers Charter Schools are starting so early. I remember Brian Riedlinger was on TV saying the early start showed they were serious about education. To be honest, I scoffed at the time. But now I wonder.
In the past, there’s been a strong tradition in New Orleans of not sending your kids to school until after Labor Day. That meant that some kids missed the first week or so of school, and got off to a bad start. But what with Xy’s school starting so early, perhaps they only got parents who were really on the ball.
I heard that some students who didn’t show up for the first week were expelled by the principal. They’ve got a waiting list of students, so it only makes sense that if you don’t show up, you’ll lose your place. Those families may have trouble finding any place for their students in the new hodgepodge of schools down here, since the state-run district is lacking teachers and three Treme schools just lost their charter.
I’d like to believe that we’re seeing the dawn of a new age of parental responsibility and involvement in New Orleans. But that may be wishful thinking.
Some of it is probably unique to this year. So much is different. Everybody’s trying to figure out how everything works. But, like you, I also hope that the new range of choices available to families does bring a higher level of engagement and a sense that parental involvement actually can make a difference. Time will tell.