Report from Louisiana: Loose Thoughts

Readability

Report from Louisiana: Loose Thoughts

By: Pat Austin

SHREVE­PORT – I’m headed back to my sec­ond week of school this week and let me tell you, it has taken me all week­end to recover from week one! Not that any­thing went wrong, but it does take all of one’s energy to lay down a good foun­da­tion for the semes­ter in that first week.

Just some quick bits and updates this week:

The Class­room Library Project: as most of you are aware, I started a Class­room Library in my tenth grade ELA room this year with the belief that kids will read when they have choice. Addi­tion­ally, the Louisiana ver­sion of Com­mon Core stripped all nov­els from our cur­ricu­lum and we read a whole lot of non-​fiction speeches and arti­cles. So, I’m try­ing to restore bal­ance. At the end of day one, ten stu­dents had checked out books. It was glo­ri­ous. By the end of day three, my entire fourth block spent the last twenty min­utes of class Fri­day read­ing from their books. Every­one had a book of their own choice and was read­ing. I’m very opti­mistic about what we can accom­plish this year! I spent the entire day Sat­ur­day set­ting up Reader’s Note­books to give to my stu­dents this week. Thanks to every­one who sent us books and remem­ber, the Wish List is con­tin­u­ously updat­ing!

Cur­rently Read­ing: A friend rec­om­mended The Sun Does Rise by Anthony Ray Hin­ton. I down­loaded it on my Kin­dle (dur­ing an espe­cially dull in-​service last week) and have not been able to put it down. Anthony Ray Hin­ton did thirty years on Alabama’s death row for a crime he did not com­mit. He is a thor­oughly engag­ing writer and I am sav­ing the last sixty pages of this book for later today when I can read straight through.

Con­fed­er­ate Mon­u­ments: A cou­ple of arti­cles have popped up on my radar about Con­fed­er­ate mon­u­ments this week: this AP arti­cle and then the New York Times has a piece as well. Removal of the mon­u­ments in NOLA hasn’t seemed to have restored peace and unity there or solved the city’s other issues as far as I can tell. The bat­tle over the Con­fed­er­ate mon­u­ment in Shreve­port is still ongo­ing and the Daugh­ters of the Con­fed­er­acy is still rais­ing money to save their mon­u­ment and plead their case. One take­away from the NYT piece is that not all these reminders of the Civil War can be removed, which begs the point, to me, why even try to erase or san­i­tize his­tory? Let’s just educate.

What Peo­ple are Talk­ing About: Prison reform. Here in Louisiana we are hear­ing lots of dis­cus­sion about Gov­er­nor John Bel Edwards reform pack­age that has released thou­sands of inmates in an attempt to lower incar­cer­a­tion rates. The Edwards camp says it has been a suc­cess but not every­one, includ­ing U.S. Sen­a­tor John Kennedy, agrees. At least two have been re-​arrested and charged with mur­der. The plan might have looked good on paper and may be sav­ing the state money, but the prob­lem seems to be that the edu­ca­tion and train­ing pro­grams were not all in place when the doors to the pris­ons opened. It will be inter­est­ing to watch the recidi­vism num­bers over the next months.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreve­port and is the author of Cane River Bohemia. Fol­low her on Insta­gram @patbecker25.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I’m headed back to my second week of school this week and let me tell you, it has taken me all weekend to recover from week one!  Not that anything went wrong, but it does take all of one’s energy to lay down a good foundation for the semester in that first week.

Just some quick bits and updates this week:

The Classroom Library Project:  as most of you are aware, I started a Classroom Library in my tenth grade ELA room this year with the belief that kids will read when they have choice.   Additionally, the Louisiana version of Common Core stripped all novels from our curriculum and we read a whole lot of non-fiction speeches and articles.  So, I’m trying to restore balance.  At the end of day one, ten students had checked out books.  It was glorious.  By the end of day three, my entire fourth block spent the last twenty minutes of class Friday reading from their books.  Everyone had a book of their own choice and was reading.  I’m very optimistic about what we can accomplish this year!  I spent the entire day Saturday setting up Reader’s Notebooks to give to my students this week.  Thanks to everyone who sent us books and remember, the Wish List is continuously updating!

Currently Reading:  A friend recommended The Sun Does Rise by Anthony Ray Hinton.  I downloaded it on my Kindle (during an especially dull in-service last week) and have not been able to put it down.  Anthony Ray Hinton did thirty years on Alabama’s death row for a crime he did not commit.  He is a thoroughly engaging writer and I am saving the last sixty pages of this book for later today when I can read straight through.

Confederate Monuments:  A couple of articles have popped up on my radar about Confederate monuments this week: this AP article and then the New York Times has a piece as well.  Removal of the monuments in NOLA hasn’t seemed to have restored peace and unity there or solved the city’s other issues as far as I can tell.  The battle over the Confederate monument in Shreveport is still ongoing and the Daughters of the Confederacy is still raising money to save their monument and plead their case.  One takeaway from the NYT piece is that not all these reminders of the Civil War can be removed, which begs the point, to me, why even try to erase or sanitize history?  Let’s just educate.

What People are Talking About:  Prison reform.  Here in Louisiana we are hearing lots of discussion about Governor John Bel Edwards reform package that has released thousands of inmates in an attempt to lower incarceration rates.  The Edwards camp says it has been a success but not everyone, including U.S. Senator John Kennedy, agrees.  At least two have been re-arrested and charged with murder.  The plan might have looked good on paper and may be saving the state money, but the problem seems to be that the education and training programs were not all in place when the doors to the prisons opened.  It will be interesting to watch the recidivism numbers over the next months.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25.