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ULEAD the Next 10

As we look forward to the Next 10 years of education reform in New Orleans and those leading the work we have to look at the first graduating cohort of Urban Leaders for Equity and Diversity— ULEAD fellows.

In the way that civil right leaders and those in the movement gathered at the legendary Dooky Chase to share their ideas of how to end racial segregation and discrimination in the 1960’s—fellows of the inaugural ULEAD cohort came together in that same spirit to share their ideas on how they would move education forward in New Orleans. ULEAD is an education leadership academy to train and empower Black professionals in the city with the knowledge, resources, and network to act in support of creating sustainable quality educational options and policies.

The 26 fellows presented their post fellowship projects around increasing human capital in schools, establishing networks of support for black teachers, becoming board members of schools and organizations, engaging in neighborhood political grassroots organizations, STEM programs, establishing an afrocentric learning institution. Lori Vaugh, a native of New Orleans and speech therapist, wants to develop a mentorship program that trains and redirects student-athletes into career paths post high school and college athletic careers. She has been accepted into 4.0 Schools Essentials program this month where participants are given an opportunity to test their ideas for a product, school model, or service in an effort to launch their idea.

Dr. Howard Fuller gave the keynote address and shared from Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth with, “Each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it, in relative opacity.” He charged fellows to think about what their mission in New Orleans is and how exactly they would fulfill it. Below are two perspectives from ULEAD fellows and their thoughts about what education should look like in New Orleans.

It Takes a Village, by Jameeta M. Youngblood

Imagine, if you will, a community where education is not an option, but a necessity. Students are allowed to learn in ways that make sense to them.  Each student has a personally tailored education profile that starts with the basic fundamentals of learning, and evolves based on the student’s college or career choice.  Testing is not the only means to judge progr ess, because, let’s face it, everyone does not test well.

Community organizations and local businesses are instrumental in helping students develop their path in life through after-school mentoring programs.  Parents, teachers, and school administration work together to ensure that students are on the right path and receiving the direction they need.  The school board consists of people who are invested in the community and the success of the students.

My ideal school system is one where the whole community is involved and learning is a forethought and not an afterthought.

My Ideal Education System, by Jasmine Ratliff

My ideal education system heavily involves a sense of community where the entire family is part of the education process.  I believe there should be a heavy emphasis on equality for all students regardless of a family’s financial resources or status.

There should also be appropriate individual evaluations of knowledge instead of standardized testing.  The students should be taught by culturally competent, academically qualified, and well trained teachers.  There should be competitive pay for teachers, not  just leaders, incorporated with the progression of student learning.

Overall, my ideal education system would teach students how to be leaders, and push them to be productive and contributing members of society.

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