UNO + SUNO = UNO; Colton Phase 2?

UNO-SUNO merger suggestion is expected to touch off heated debate

On paper, merging SUNO with UNO makes sense and there is an argument that could be made that it is well past time to put a segregation-era dual system to rest. But Gov. Jindal isn’t really making that argument. And no one believes that SUNO, as an HBCU or anything, will survive the merger. The state university system is in crisis but a large part of the budget crisis has come from the Jindal administration with multi-million dollar cuts and constant threats of more. [Yes, I know the state made plenty of mistakes with higher education money and no-plans in the past and up to the present. That’s no excuse. Where are all these college-bound charter school graduates supposed to go? They can’t all go to Harvard, Yale and Rice.] Now triage is called for. And now black folks may see this as  their hard-won and -earned past being flushed down the toilet by a governor who trotted out the old segregation-era term “outside agitators” to woo north LA.

And there may be a fight for the Colton building:

At a Recovery School District meeting Tuesday night, the neighborhood group held green signs that read, “Real community choice for Colton.” Other corners of the room at Joseph A. Craig Elementary were filled with parents, teachers and students wearing KIPP T-shirts.

“We already have the KIPP option downtown,” said Chris O’Neill, who lives seven blocks from Colton and has a 2-year-old daughter. “How about another choice? Let’s try something else.”

Whose hands does it play into that the neighborhood opposition at the meeting was largely white and the KIPP supporters largely black?

And how does the renewal of KIPP charters, including a 10-year renewal [I wasn’t aware such was possible] for KIPP Believe College Prep, play into all this, if at all? Can it not?

And when/if KIPP moves from Douglass to Colton, what happens to Douglass? Was a school with strong community support kicked out, period, instead of reformed or helped or transformed? Or is KIPP a settlement to claim an area for “other use”? The opaque/non-existent system for assigning school buildings, and the charter “revolution” in general, encourages conspiracy theories.

About G Bitch

A mad black woman in New Orleans.
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2 Responses to UNO + SUNO = UNO; Colton Phase 2?

  1. Claudia Copeland says:

    The RSD is trying to frame the Colton School debate as a pro-KIPP vs. anti-KIPP fight. That is simply not true. None of the parents asking for community choice are anti-KIPP; no one is trying to shut down any KIPP schools, and people took great pains to make it clear that KIPP is really good for some kids, but that it MAY NOT BE THE CHOICE of the parents in the neighborhood, especially considering that there are already two other KIPP schools within walking-distance of Colton.

    The main problem has nothing to do with KIPP. Parents from the neighborhood have been attending Colton-related meetings for over a year, and whenever they tried to discuss what they wanted in a school, they were told that this was not about the school, just the renovation, and that discussions about the school would come later. Well, those discussions never came; all of a sudden, Paul Vallas decided for our community that KIPP was going to be “awarded” the Colton Building. We don’t feel that schools are things to be given away. We feel that we, as community members, should decide what type of school should go in there. If they were to have a vote by people in the neighborhoods who live within walking distance of Colton, and the majority voted for KIPP, I would happily accept that, even if my kids wouldn’t go there. The sit-up-straight, authoritarian style of KIPP just isn’t my thing, but that’s not to say it doesn’t work well for others; they have had fantastic results with many kids. What I or any of us think about KIPP individually, though, isn’t the point; the point is that we as a community should be deciding what school goes in to Colton. It should not be “given away” by the RSD, which is state-based, not New Orleans-based, and not accountable to New Orleanians; it’s not theirs to give.

  2. José Torres-Tama says:

    No Choice at Colton to our community smells of corrupt dealings by the RSD

    At the heart of the debate concerning the Saint Claude Avenue Colton School and what kind of charter would be best for the three historic neighborhoods that it would serve (St. Roch, Bywater & Marigny) is that the surrounding community was never engaged in deciding what school model should be considered. I literally live two blocks away on the 2400 block of Saint Claude, and not once during the past year of 2010 have I received a notice or seen any fliers posted on having us engaged as a community in the decision-making process. Suddenly, a few months ago, we heard that a KIPP School was going into Colton, and it was shocking to have heard such a proclamation without the nearby community being asked for any input.

    A concerned group of community parents from the three neighborhoods, including my wife and myself, met with KIIP officials in November to be told to our surprised faces that Colton was to house “their KIPP school”, and that this was a done deal. The two KIPP officials we met told us blankly that there was nothing we could really do because Colton belonged to them, but we were told that they would look to consider our interest in the kind of KIPP model that would be established at Colton. Unfortunately, they were hardly the model of a listening body looking to really engage our concerns about not having had a voice to choose. There was never a true welcoming approach about our interest in having another charter model being considered other than KIPP.

    I am a Latino man of color, and I am generally the biggest minority, between black and white constituents, in these neighborhoods. Also, I am a concerned parent, and I am fortunate enough to own a modest home in a neighborhood that we have contributed to during its post-Katrina renaissance. When my wife and I closed on our house in October of 2008, the 2400 block of Saint Claude was practically abandoned. Across the street, the Whitney Bank operated during daylight hours, and on our riverside, a corner furniture store bustled during the day as well. At night, there was just one other living person next door, and we moved in with our little boy who was turning two. We took a risk in buying here because we saw the potential of this recovering thoroughfare. We invested everything we had to purchase this house and to contribute to the rebirth of the Saint Claude Avenue corridor. It was our hope that in the future the abandoned Colton building could be a school that we could count on for our children.

    We pay property taxes that I believe help support a neighborhood school such as Colton, and it would be constitutionally sound to have our voices heard on the kind of school we would like to support with those paid taxes. However, it looks like business as usual is in effect here, and the community is not being offered a choice. Those of us meeting about Colton have simply been asking for a choice. To have only one particular model of school simply rammed down our community’s throat is absolutely wrong. At the heart of the wrongs that are taking place in offering us no choice is taxation without representation. I do not know all that there is to know about KIPP, and it is obvious that they have served underserved students well in the past, African American and Latino children according to their web pages.

    However, how is it that we, as a community, were never invited to the power table to decide, to offer input on the kind of school that could serve all of our nearby neighbors? I am not a privileged individual. I come from working class immigrant parents, and we sold coffee from our coffee wagon family business in New York City to realize our North American Dream. I am a working class visual and performing artist in New Orleans, and I love this city. I want to see a racially and economically diverse school for my two little boys, one that could offer a Spanish language curriculum, an arts curriculum, and a critical thinking curriculum, but at the heart of my concern is the simple and constitutional courtesy, our inalienable right as citizens and taxpayers, of being asked, of being engaged in the decision-making process, about what kind of school can be best for our neighborhood.

    This is not a lot to ask. However, KIPP and their officials have never even afforded us this simple request. We are having a debate now because we, the community, are demanding to be engaged in the decision of what school model is housed at Colton. If the Recovery School District Chief Superintendent Mr. Vallas has seen it fit to offer us no choice other than a KIPP School, who has given him the power to take such a bold stance and such an unconstitutional action? We will contest these actions, which at their very core look like the same old strategies of New Orleans corruption at work. I would not be surprised if such actions are actually illegal when a community is not asked to participate in the choice of school that they are to have.

    We demand to have a choice! We will have a choice!

Comments welcomed. Really.