Category Archives: General

Jungleland in #NOLA

Jungleland,” Nathaniel Rich’s recent New York Times Magazine piece, explores the ecological transformation of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward since the devastation Hurricane Katrina left behind. It is a fascinating read that interweaves the human, environmental, political, and societal issues surrounding the remaking of a city; a city that has been left behind by human public policy and taken over by the world’s natural elements.

I highly recommend this thought-provoking read written by someone who lives and works in New Orleans. Here are two of my favorite quotes:

A variety of species, some exotic, have moved in, among them crepe myrtle, black willow and golden rain trees laced with vines. The undergrowth is a chaotic mix of weeds as high as basketball hoops and flowering shrubs like lantana, oleander and oxalis. Invasive species have infiltrated the neighborhood from the major avenues, the seeds transported by the flatbed trucks that drive to the city. The plant and animal life varies quixotically from plot to plot, as the new species entrench themselves, mustering strength, before fighting for additional territory.

The ecological composition of the neighborhood may be diverse, but it is also extremely unstable. “It’s a very odd mix, one that you wouldn’t other­wise see in nature,” Blum says. “It’s a Frankenstein community.” Ecologically speaking, Katrina has created a monster.

And…

Finally I gave up. Yaukey was too deep in the woods. It was no longer possible to distinguish which calls were his and which the birds’. He walked around a stand of 15-foot Chinese tallow trees, the green and crimson leaves waving mournfully in the wind. And then he was gone. The wilderness just swallowed him up.

New Orleans of the 1920s

via Weirdo Video

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BBCX365: Art For Every Day

Salon has a piece up about this amazing design project by a college student looking to create posters for every day of an entire year… all based off of BBC news articles.

They are beautiful reminders of how turbulent, amazing, and deeply interesting this last year has been. You can find the entire project HERE.

Link

US Debt “Crisis” LINK

Trip0li LINK

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And… We’re Back!

It has been too long, but a new school year means a new year of blogging here at Blogging NOLA.

Expect more quality and irregular content!

NECS

Gumbo, The Infographic

by  necs2010

I love gumbo. I love the stuff I get at Gott Gourmet, I love the stuff I get in the Quarter, and I love the rural St. James gumbo we get at school. I love gumbo. Yet, I did not understand exactly what constitutes “gumbo” until I saw this great infographic from GOOD.

Click to make BIG!

 

Post A Week/Day

 

So WordPress, the beloved site that hosts this blog, is challenging writers to post every day or every week. Since I teach, although I have today off and I AM REALLY HAPPY ABOUT THAT, I probably will not be posting every day. I apologize for not being more committed to the three sad people that read this blog, plus my mother who makes me feel better by reading this whenever I post it on Facebook.

Expect a bit more consistency from my blogging… cheers from NOLA!

PS – WordPress asks that we post some nice post informing everyone we are partaking. The form letter is below the fold.

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Employment, Education Reform, and Me (plus other stuff)

Hire Me! COME ON! I’m Fricking Adorable!

Long time, no post!

Recently I have fallen into a bit of a writing malaise. It might somewhat correlated to the hiring malaise I am in as well. Read… I am not hired yet. When I started this blog I was under the assumption that I would be hired by the first day of school, which turned out to be a bit of a fantasy in New Orleans.

So why are you unhired?

Let me explain. Stay with me now…

New Orleans has become a veritable laboratory of  education innovation since every established education system was obliterated post-Katrina. With destroyed schools, a dysfunctional school board, and diaspora of teachers and students there was an opening for something new to take root where, even prior to Katrina, the educational outlook was bleak.

The Recovery School District, a state takeover of Orleans Parish Schools pre-Katrina, was transformed by its newly instated Superintendent Paul Vallas into a dynamic system that spun many schools off into independently run charter schools, while managing other schools like a traditional district. Fundamental to this plan was entrusting principals with the important decisions needed to turn around a devastated education system.

For more on this transformation read this great NYT piece on the system, TFA, and education reform: A Teachable Moment.

Ok, so why are you unhired?

Keep with me. Part of the New Orleans experiment was to allow parents and students the freedom choice to choose between any of the cities charters or RSD-run schools. Basically, the ultimate school of choice zone and a free-marketeers wet dream. Unfortunately, that means many schools are unsure of their enrollment numbers going into a new school year. Predictions on high enrollment may fall flat and teachers will be let go, or schools will have above predicted number of enrollees and need to high new teachers a month into school. Without solid “warm body counts” (yup that would be the term they use) schools don’t know how much state funding they will receive, therefore leaving them unable to hire teachers…. aka me.

But you are in TFA they are supposed to give you a job!

Yah, so, sort of. In many TFA regions a single TFA employee is able to talk to a single HR person in a district and ensure placement of TFA corps members (me). In NOLA, because we are this oh so special laboratory of innovation, we have 33 traditional RSD schools, 37 charter schools, 16 Orleans Parish School board run schools, and other parish districts to interview with. This means a team of 5 TFA employees working constantly to set up interviews with school leaders and identifying vacancies.

Basically, its an educational free market and I am currently the surplus supply. Joy.

Doesn’t that suck.

Yup. Kind of does. Turns out TFA might have recruited a few too many science people this year, which is why I’m taking the incredibly easy social studies praxis tomorrow. Seriously, really easy test. Some of the blame is on TFA for bringing 210 corps members when they had a even worse hiring problem last year. Additionally, Jefferson Parish schools, a suburban traditional district, laid off a gazillion teachers, including many TFA corps members, at the end of last year and threw many of the projections for placement out the window.

Are you staying sane?

Yup. I had the opportunity to work at Walter L. Cohen High School for 3 weeks with second year TFA corps members. It gave me the experience of working in a school that was realistically one of the worst in New Orleans before and after the storm, but has seen the fruits of solid school leadership in both academic and cultural gains at the school. Additionally, I’ve worked at the International High School, a diverse and innovative charter school, as it works to get off the ground in a new location with many first year corps members. These experiences observing different systems and styles of teaching that many TFA corps members who were hired and started working on the first day were not able to receive.

I have also watched a lot of Netflix instant view material. A lot. Also, Michigan Football… great way to stay sane this year.

Next steps?

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