The Second Line Blog

Harvey’s TRUE Impact

Hurricane Harvey ravished Texas and surrounding Gulf areas.  The real impact on students may not be realized for years to come.  Keeping students in the classroom will make all the difference in the world in student success and longevity.
“It was a disaster of such a magnitude that I think the effects are going to have to be measured not across the years but really across generations, because children lost so much in that storm. It occurred, just like Harvey, at the beginning of a new academic year. We know that sometimes when children miss large segments of their education, that that is very difficult, if not impossible, for them to make that up.”
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Making Room for Students

Louisiana school districts are preparing for students displace by Hurricane Harvey.  State education superintendent, John White, is encouraging all schools to welcome students with open arms.
“We know that, with previous hurricanes and natural disasters, that our school district has had to jump into action to get students registered and to provide a sense of normalcy for them. We’re prepared to do that.”
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NOLA Schools Helping with Harvey

Many New Orleans schools are pitching in to help families negatively affected by Hurricane Harvey. From food drives to school supply drives, NOLA teachers and students are making a difference.
The canned goods will be sent to Second Harvest, and the funds will go to Catholic Charities.”
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NAACP’s Attempt at Nuance Leaves Much to be Desired

By Jacqueline Cooper, President, Black Alliance for Educational Options

The NAACP released its much-hyped, and dare I say, now much maligned, report on “Education Quality” last month to mixed reviews. What’s not so “mixed” is that the organization is once again taking aim at charter schools across the country. The report claims to be “speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves” and calling for “stronger charter school accountability measures.”

I thought this story was over and done with last year when the NAACP heard from parental choice groups like the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and others when we made our way to their national board meeting to pushed back against the civil rights group’s call for an ill-advised moratorium on new charter schools and charter school expansion. Supporters even spoke out in favor of greater transparency and accountability for all public schools—charter and traditional district—that serve our children.

And while the report acknowledges many of the shared concerns we have with the effectiveness of the public education system, the report still calls for, what is now, a 10-year ban on charter schools and placing existing charter schools under the control of traditional school districts. This shows an inherited bias among some in the organization that they are more interested in pursuing bad education policies instead of scaling up what’s working well for our children. It’s hard to see how our children will win with such a subjective view of education choice.

The NAACP says it “has always advocated for quality education of African American children as the gateway to economic prosperity and to become fully contributing citizens of society.” If this were true then why aren’t they fighting for Black families to have more high-quality education options, not less? Why aren’t they fighting for Black families to have greater access to excellent teachers, curriculum, administrators, and school staff, not fewer? And why aren’t they fighting for Black families to receive the same quality education as their peers across town, and not second-rate instruction?

The NAACP didn’t even acknowledge in its report new data on college completion that showed low-income students of color from cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and Newark who graduate from top charter networks, earn four-year degrees at rates up to five times higher than their counterparts in traditional public schools. Yet they want you to think charter schools are the real problem.

Well, one thing is clear: those of us on the front lines fighting for low-income and working-class Black families won’t be fooled by a one-sided report that offers limited solutions for our children.  That’s why we are urging all charter advocates to be more vigilant now than ever as the NAACP pushes model legislation to change state laws to stop new charter schools. Up until now they’ve been all talk and no action. Now is the time to fight back and double down on our own “model legislation” to bring more education options to families across the country. BAEO is ready for this fight.

So, NAACP: Black families deserve better from your organization if we’re ever going to, as you put it, “become fully contributing citizens of society.”

Jacqueline Cooper is the President of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, one of America’s preeminent nonprofit education advocacy organizations dedicated to increasing access to high-quality education options for low-income and working-class Black families. As BAEO’s president, Cooper leads a national executive leadership team in implementing the organization’s mission, strategic goals, and vision.

Cooper previously served as BAEO’s Interim President and as Chief of Staff. She was responsible for the central coordination of staff activities and ensuring organizational alignment with the strategic priorities of the board. As a key member of BAEO’s executive leadership team, she supported the organization in achieving its goals and objectives through improving performance management and talent development; eliminating barriers to coordination, cooperation, and collaboration; and stewarding the organization’s resources to promote efficiency and cost management.

Cooper arrived at BAEO in 2009 as Director of Strategic Initiatives. In this position, she designed and implemented a management system that clarified strategy, optimized data, achieved vertical and horizontal alignment and linked strategy to operations. Most notably, Cooper directed BAEO’s Annual Symposium, the largest gathering of Black education reform supporters in the nation.

Prior to BAEO, Cooper worked for 11 years at JP Morgan Chase. In her last position as Vice President and Business Manager in Global Syndicated Finance, she managed staffing, logistical needs and the performance review process for the investment bank’s largest department. Cooper also owned and operated four elite “Shining Star” Curves franchises in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Cooper earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Bryn Mawr College and a M.B.A. in finance and accounting from New York University’s Stern School of Business. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Cooper resides in New Jersey with her husband and daughter.


How’s a Black Kid to Feel?


For myself, growing up in New Orleans, I didn’t know what overt racism was.  For the record, I have had white teachers.  Homegrown, but white nonetheless, and they served as my only frame of reference of white people.  It wasn’t until I traveled 45 minutes North to Hammond, LA for college at Southeastern University that I experienced first hand what racism truly looked like.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  It was an enlightening experience, but things settled and I moved forward.  Then, fast forward to eight years later to July 13, 2013 – it was the beginning of me becoming overwhelmed.

One month before the birth of my son, my black son, I sat, fixated on my television.  Troubled.  Anxiously anticipating the verdict of the Trayvon Martin’s accused murderer. I’d assumed things were different, so there was no reason his accuser wouldn’t be held responsible for murdering an innocent young boy right?  “NOT GUILTY.”

The heartbreak, fear, anger, and confusion I felt in that very moment remains impossible to capture in words. I remember holding my pregnant belly and feeling pain and feeling empathy for his parents and all parents who would now be a little more afraid their black sons may not make it home to them each night.  Unfortunately, stories of black lives cut short and/or being reduced to worthlessness are becoming all too common now.

I grow weary watching the news.  I grow angry watching the injustices and anticipating the next breaking news alert, the next mother wrapped in grief during a press conference, the next high profile bigot brought onto a national network to debate controversial views for ratings, and worst of all, the mindless and insensitive rants and raves of #45 (whom I refuse to acknowledge as president) blasting across my television and my social media accounts.

I grow concerned for what our children perceive and understand to be normal.  

  • Do they even understand what is taking place in the world they exist in?  (Most of my high school students are more concerned with which girls like them and Lil Uzi Vert.)
  • Should we continue to shield them (keep them ignorant) to protect them?
  • Should we enlighten and expose them to protect them?

Interestingly, I know my white educator colleagues feel pressure during these times to do no harm, but the irony is I feel it even more.  How do I keep up the act of reminding my students they are beautiful, intelligent and worthwhile, when I am feeling worn down?  I don’t have the answers, but for now and more than ever, I’m motivated to strengthen my faith so when tasked with having to provide an explanation, I can continue to spread love and help them believe that despite the current and unfortunate events taking place, they do matter.

Under Control

The Orleans Parish School Board will welcome nine schools back from the Recovery School District.  FirstLine charter school network is also sending schools back to the control of the Orleans Parish School Board.
“If they’re [charter management organizations] going to be accountable, they need to have control over the key levers that will lead to good outcomes for students.”
Read more here

Freedom From White Supremacy Comes With A Reexamination of Our Education System


We were educated in the disease of white supremacy. It is time we realize this education is not good enough for our children. In order to expose the lies, embrace the truth and to give our children a more progressive education, there has to be a deliberate and collective effort for change.

                                           -L.J. Douglas

If you think it is cool to drop your feelings about Charlottesville and then jump onto the next trending topic on social media, you are part of the problem. If you think giving condolences to Heather Heyer, her family, and to the many individuals who were injured in the horrific domestic terrorist attack is enough, you are part of the problem. If you believe letting this domestic terrorist attack be the focal point of the media for a few days before we resume business as normal when this was one of the most crucial terrorist attacks on American soil, you are part of the problem and you should stop wasting your time.

I truly believe parents, educators, and administrators around the nation should use these most recent events on our soil as a way to open up the door to change education for our younger generation.  They should be taught the information shared by these hate groups is misleading and derogatory, to say the least.

White supremacy wasn’t just the physical capture, owning, and selling of other human beings, but it was the systematic and deliberate installation of information and untruths that contributed to brainwashing, confusion, and the intentional rewriting of history. It is woven into the DNA of this nation and that DNA is worn as a quilt of comfort even by those who claim to despise white supremacy and to be on our side.

We have arrived here, at this point in history, because we have accommodated white supremacy. Where were we during the rise of these Neo Fascist, Neo Nazi, and so called White Nationalists? Are we going to sit idly by on the sidelines and be cool just as long as it doesn’t come to our doorstep?

White Supremacy is a learned behavior and I am not going to sit and be silent while a faction of this country wants to see it function again like the days of Jim Crow and Reconstruction. Some people say these monuments and symbols are not hurting anyone. I think they should be mindful and educate themselves on the history and placement of these monuments. An article in The Atlantic gives proof of blatant disrespect to the civil rights movement by the strategic placement of many monuments:

A timeline of the genesis of the Confederate sites shows two notable spikes. One comes around the turn of the 20th century, just after Plessy v. Ferguson, and just as many Southern states were establishing repressive race laws. The second runs from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s—the peak of the civil-rights movement. In other words, the erection of Confederate monuments has been a way to perform cultural resistance to black equality.

White Supremacy is on the rise again. Really, it has never gone anywhere.  This past Friday, we witnessed a Klan march and rally with foul individuals who didn’t even bother to mask up and I suspect that’s because many who claim to be on the side of righteousness are not speaking up.

So what do we do?

Baby boomers to IGen(Gen Z) must decide what side they are on. The side of the just individuals or the side of systemic evil. It is a decision many people were faced with yesteryear and as far as I’m concerned there is only one right choice. We must proceed to educate one another and learn through unconventional methods of today.  Our past generations paved the way with blood, sweat, tears, and some with their lives.

We must bring our children to council meetings, PTA meetings, city planning meetings, and involve them in the civic duties that come to every citizen once they become of age.  Civic engagement must become a frequented occurrence for our children in order to teach them vividly in living color the ends and outs of prejudice, racism, bigotry, and supremacy. Parents must instill positive information and not shield and protect our children from the horrors of the world. I have heard so many times since Friday’s horrific march, “How do I explain this to my children?” My answer is slowly, thoughtfully, and completely with the utmost of compassion. Schools must reinforce the information from home while simultaneously weeding out and exposing the falsehoods and lies taught to us in the past. White supremacy can only be educated away. Education is constant, but somewhere along the way, we thought we made it and got over. Consistency is a crucial component.  Give thanks for the awakening and EDUCATE, EDUCATE, EDUCATE!

Eclipsing the School Day

Several Catholic Schools in the New Orleans area are closing on the day of the eclipse, while others are requiring permission slips and special glasses for students to view the eclipse.  School officials are concerned about damage to the students’ eyes if they look directly at the sun during the event.
“Catholic school eclipse guidelines instruct students to never look at the sun or take a picture of the sun during the eclipse, which ‘can cause serious damage to their eyes or even blindness.'”

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