Closures in New Orleans Hurting Low-Income Students and English Language Learners

Speaking of school closures, here's an update on the effects of closures on students, parents and communities in New Orleans from the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association (VAYLA), an OTL ally. 

Ten New Orleans schools in the Recovery School District are slated to be closed or replaced by charter schools in the coming year. Those closures are putting stress on low-income families and families with language barriers who don't have the resources or language sills to navigate the district's school choice infrastructure. The article quotes Jacob Cohen, VAYLA's assistant director and co-founder of the Raise Your Hand Campaign.

With a large Vietnamese population and growing Latino population in eastern New Orleans, Coen said, families with language barriers often get left behind. And while there is an emphasis on school choice in the district, Cohen said many of the students say it is not easy to travel to schools in other parts of the city – often with commutes that can last between one and two hours each way and limited bus service that can preclude kids from being involved in after-school activities. 

Part of the issue that parents and communities have with these closures is the difference between how the district defines a "good school" and what parents and community members value instead. While the state is focused on test scores and a school's financial health, parents care about school culture, teacher training, extracurricular activities, services for children with special needs, and the relationships between students, parents, teachers and school officials. 

All this goes to show that school closures are disrupting whole communities. Students are shuttered from one closing school to another and those with the greatest needs are concentrated in schools unable to meet those needs.

Learn more about how school closures are affecting students across the nation – and what districts can do instead to support struggling schools – with this new infographic from the OTL Campaign!

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