USA Today Article 9/25

While at breakfast this morning, my husband and I were reading through the USA Today newspaper, and on page 3A there is a great article on New Orleans school systems called “City school system is re-educated,” by Rick Jervis.  I wanted to share some specs on this article for all of you who might be interested in the reconstruction projects there since Hurricane Katrina:

  • In the New Orleans College Prep Middle School, teachers now address their students before class with, “Good morning, scholars!”  Each student must stand with their hands to their sides and greet their teacher in return.  Teachers believe this new greeting style will, “inject fresh zeal” into the students’ day.  Do we agree?  I think it’s a little corny, personally.
  • Superintendent Paul Vallas is doing the following in his New Orleans district to better education since the hurricane: 1.) increase school day by two hours each day, 2.) put modern furniture in classrooms and electronic Promethean boards, 3.) issuing take-home laptops to all high school students, 4.) shrink class sizes.   WOW, I am impressed with Vallas.  I give him much credit for inventing THE LAPTOP IDEA!
  • Back at New Orleans College Prep Middle School, the reading teacher has found a new way to “correct” bad behavior in her classroom.  She makes any student who has acted up in class or failed assignments wear a “YET” sign around his or her neck during the next school day.  This sign means that this “bad” student is “not there yet” in terms of behavior and performance.  Ouch?!  I do not agree with this idea, because I think it humiliates students who are struggling readers, for example.  What do all of you think?

Just thought I’d share this & hope you find it interesting! – Sofia



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6 responses to “USA Today Article 9/25

  1. sunyprof

    Sofia, thanks so much for sharing…lots of jobs in NO.

    As for the “YET” sign, all it demonstrates to me is that these folks don’t get it YET! Not yet there indeed….KES

  2. jmdegan

    Conferring a title on someone does not grant that person any special claim to that title. As we see from the example, the title “scholar” can be easily replaced with the title “yet.” Students need to be empowered toward scholarship, not recieve it. I’m even a little wary of the formal routine of the whole thing, but I also think that its important for us to remember these are children we’re dealing with at the middle school level. They still need routines and structure to define their day.

    J. Degan

  3. allison

    Thank you so much for sharing these methods with us.

    I must disagree with Jerry on the “scholar” title. I see nothing wrong with calling them scholars. If they are in school and making any attempt to learn, then why not encourage them with a title that makes them feel like they are part of a worthy pursuit?

    The laptop idea is a great one. I’ve heard about this technique before and have always been in favor of it. I am curious about how many of these laptops come back to the school in one piece, though.

    I think most of us will agree with the “yet” signs. How embarrassing. What ever happened to sending a kid into the hall when they are misbehaving and giving them a lower grade when they are not performing academically?


  4. jmdegan

    You’re making an assumption (fair or not fair) about why students who are compelled to go to school are in school. And, you’re making an assumption about the product of education. Scholarship is not the intended end for every student. Should we accept, and even respect that?

    But that’s really incidental to my argument. If I call you a scholar in the morning, then hang a sign around your neck that says you don’t get it, are you still a scholar? My point is that simply giving people a title doesn’t mean that much.

    Here’s a radical approach. Why don’t we greet students by their names, and not manufacture titles for them.

    J. Degan

    PS- Dr. Stearns, are we going to be talking about classroom management in this course?

  5. allison

    HAHA! Jerry, this was great. “Here’s a radical approach. Why don’t we greet students by their names, and not manufacture titles for them.”
    Thank you for putting it back into perspective.

    I guess I agree that a title doesn’t mean much, but I think an insult like “not there yet” pulls more punch than “scholar.” I think it holds more weight for a student. I guess I’d rather use a positive title, even if it’s insignificant.

  6. mandygrl101

    Sofia: thanks for relaying this interesting article to us. I have to agree that while greeting students as scholars in the morning is a little cheesy, I don’t think it holds as much weight as shaming a child by putting a sign around his/her neck, as Alison states. I think this humiliation tactic will potentially hinder kids’ abilities to learn at school. I also don’t think they should be publicly shamed. Further, as Jerry mentioned, there is an obvious emphasis with titles at this particular school. “Scholar” vs “Yet” … clearly this district is working very diligently on important issues. (Who are we kidding??!) However, I am impressed with the initiatives that Vallas has taken in his schools. How interesting that these two schools, both in New Orleans, are moving in two very different directions. I think this article subtly reveals how discrepancies in school priorities and goals are all too common, even if the districts are in the same state, city or town.

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