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The Listening Post Asks: What Do You Think Of The School Choice System?

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New Orleans Parents Guide
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NewOrleansParentsGuide.org

WWNO's Listening Post project asks questions about local news in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and reports back on the community's response. This week the Listening Post explores School Choice and the school application process. 

Applications to New Orleans public and charter schools are due this month. Under the school choice model kids aren’t assigned to the school in their neighborhood. They apply to schools across the city,  and a computer system places them.

New Orleans mother Angela Lockley navigated this system when her family got back to New Orleans after Katrina. “The process of first of all choosing a good school and then trying to understand what the charter schools were about was both were both a challenge.”

Lockley lives in the East, but every day she drives her kids uptown to attend college prep charter schools.

“What drew me to that particular school was that the social worker sat with me and she had such interest in my daughter's social emotional needs before her academic needs.”

Lockley says she’s happy with how things turned out for her family, and she’s seen improvements in the school system every year. But it’s not perfect.

“So I think there are a few schools that have the best resources, best buildings, best teachers. Those are the schools the parents are fighting to get into. Those are the schools where there's a waiting list. So is choice process fair? My answer to that currently would be no.”

Last year OneApp received 10,000 applications. This year’s deadline is February 27th. What do the people of New Orleans think about school choice- is it fair? Better or worse than the old neighborhood school system? Why?

This week we asked people if they’d send their kids to the schools in their neighborhood, and what they look for when choosing a school. Here’s what we heard:

school_choice_vox.mp3

We also sent out these questions via text message. Here are a few responses:  

Great neighborhood school~~Homer A. Plessy. And my son is a student there.”

"If I had kids here in New Orleans I’d home school. The Recovery School District here operates on a business model that treat our children like products."

“It’s not so much a choice as taking whatever spot is available at one of the schools you find acceptable.”

Aesha Rasheed is editor of the New Orleans Parents guide, a free guidebook to public schools in New Orleans.

“We're not going to have more diverse schools if more non-black people, basically, don't send their kids to more schools."

Rasheed says right now there aren’t many racially diverse schools. But in the open enrollment system, that can change..

“I think waiting for the schools to magically become diverse, it suggests that there’s no power from the people who are making school choices.”

Do you have kids in school in New Orleans? Let us know what you think about the school choice system. Text the word “hello” to 504-303-4348.

Visit listeningpostnola.com to see more opinions on this topic. And tell us what you think on twitter at @LP_NOLA.

Until next time...be true to your school.

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