Student Voices: New Orleans Perspectives

About this series

These pieces are a collaboration between The Hechinger Report and high school students at Bard’s Early College in New Orleans. The teenagers wrote opinion pieces on whether all students should be encouraged to attend college, the value of alternative teacher preparation programs such as Teach For America, the importance of desegregation, or the best approach to school discipline.

Glenn Sullivan

New Orleans schools should stop hiring so many teachers who don’t understand the students’ culture or backgrounds

By Glenn Sullivan

The lunch period ended like so many others. After the bell rang, students raced up the stairwell, not in a rush to get to class on time but to finish socializing and playing with their friends. I was a sophomore at Lake Area New Tech High School in New Orleans at the time, and I […]


Can kids tell whether they’re being taught the Common Core?

By Mallory Falk

This school year, teachers around the country changed their curricula to meet the new Common Core standards, a national set of standards mapping out what students should learn in math and English language arts. Math teachers covered fewer topics in greater depth. English teachers cut back on fiction and assigned more supplemental readings – articles […]

Merlin George graduated this spring from New Orleans' Lake Area New Tech Early College High School. He will attend the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in the fall.

Strict rules have helped boost academic performance in New Orleans, but some schools go too far

By Merlin George

School was a complete joke to me as a young child. I thought it was just a place where I could come and socialize, play around, eat the free lunch and wander up and down the halls. There was a time in the third grade when I listened to James Brown music and danced to […]

Erin Lockley

Strict discipline can help students —as long as schools stay flexible

By Erin Lockley

The schools that have opened in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina are very diverse, but one thing many have in common is strict rules. This is a big difference from before the storm. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, I attended Dibert Elementary School in New Orleans. Even though I was quite young, I still remember the […]

Alexios Moore is the academic director of Bard Early College in New Orleans

How the liberal arts empowered New Orleans high schoolers to make their voices heard

By Alexios Moore

The debate around education policy in our urban schools has been dominated by various institutional stakeholders — by foundations and politicians, charter school organizations and unions. Student voices are too often curated and carved into research papers and feature articles without full and fair attention to the student’s original concerns and ideas. After all, we […]

Milan Miller

In their own words

By Sarah Carr

As part of a collaboration with Bard’s Early College program in New Orleans, The Hechinger Report has been asking teenagers to share their opinions on everything from discipline in the schools to the value of a four-year college degree. The students often came down on very different sides of the issues. Sixteen-year-old Brianisha Frith, for […]

Brianisha Frith

Teach for America has brought new energy to New Orleans schools

By Brianisha Frith

​After Hurricane Katrina, I started a new middle school called KIPP Central City, one of many charter schools that has opened in New Orleans. The entire KIPP environment (KIPP stands for the Knowledge is Power Program) focuses on getting students to and through college. When I first heard that goal it felt insane yet intriguing. […]

Kenyatta Collins

New Orleans schools feel too much like prisons

By Kenyatta Collins

Is my high school, Lake Area New Tech, a prison or school? Students arrive ready for school every morning, but unfortunately must wait outside the building until security guards unlock the doors at 7:30 a.m. It could be raining, hailing, or sleeting, but they will NOT open the doors until then. Once the doors are […]

Thea Tucker

Why I wish my guidance counselors would stop talking so much about college

By Thea Tucker

In New Orleans schools there are a lot of teachers, principals and guidance counselors who encourage students to go to college so much and so vigorously that it seems as though they are forcing the idea of college on them. I have advisors who encourage me to attend a four-year university at both my high […]

Damia Williams, 17, is a student at New Orleans’Edna Karr High School.

School desegregation matters, but should be left to personal choice, not public policy

By Damia Williams

Growing up, I attended some schools with very little racial diversity —and others with a lot. I started off at Johnson Gretna Park in a New Orleans suburb, which had mostly black students. Then, in third grade I transferred to Homedale Elementary, which had mostly white students. At first I had a hard time fitting […]