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.