Viewpoint: We’re still failing our at-risk youth

The Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) and Educators for Quality Alternatives (EQA) announced their new center in New Orleans East on Wednesday (Aug. 8), saying it will “remove barriers to success.” Also on Wednesday, YouthForce NOLA, the city’s youth talent development intermediary, was touting a new round of funding for 13 New Orleans public high schools. The funds will “help students gain meaningful work experience and develop appropriate technical, academic and soft skills.” Though worthy programs, their leaders won’t be engaging the at-risk youth who need them the most — those who have no vision for the future and have long-since given up on completing a public school education. 

Despite YEP, EQA, YouthForce NOLA and other well-intentioned programs, far too many New Orleans youth still don’t have a pathway to success. Their parents might be poorly educated or underemployed and therefore forced to work two minimum wage jobs just to pay Entergy and the rent. Many kids survive on junk food because healthier foods are more expensive and not readily available in many of New Orleans’ food desert neighborhoods.

Lusher Charter School will be renamed The Willow School

After decades of heated controversy that boiled over in recent years, the Lusher Charter School board has chosen a name to replace that of avowed White supremacist Robert Mills Lusher. The highly ranked public school educating kindergarteners through 12th-graders will become The Willow School. The name is a nod to the Willow Street building where the school began educating students in 1917 and where the elementary students are still educated. The Orleans Parish School Board renamed the building itself for Dr. Everett J. Williams Jr., the first Black superintendent of the city’s public school system. Robert Mills Lusher was a Reconstruction-era state school superintendent who promoted and instituted racial segregation in public schools.

Live Oak elementary school to close at the end of school year, The Lens reports

The FirstLine Live Oak Charter School in the Irish Channel will close at the end of the school year, The Lens reported. The D-rated pre-K through eighth-grade school enrolled about 315 students this year, well short of its 500-student goal. An official from FirstLine, which took over the Constance Street campus from ReNew Schools in 2018, told The Lens’ Marta Jewson that the school had been operating at a deficit for several years, requiring the five-school local charter operator to subsidize Live Oak.

Cohen High offers its students a $100 vaccination incentive

Walter L. Cohen High School, at 3520 Dryades St. in the Milan neighborhood, is offering $100 to eligible students who have received or will receive the Covid-19 vaccine. At a vaccination event on Thursday (Nov. 18), around 40 students took advantage of the offer and received their first or second shot. The initiative began Sept.

Lusher halts its renaming process after threat of Open Meetings Law litigation, The Lens reports

The Lusher Charter School board suspended its renaming effort after an attorney for a group of Lusher parents, alumni and students warned of pending litigation over alleged violations of the state’s Open Meetings Law, The Lens has reported. The board had formed a study group that met privately to come up with names to replace that of Robert Mills Lusher, an avowed segregationist and Confederate official, but received public pushback on the recommended names at a recent board meeting, where board members voted to form another study group.

Lusher board puts off name change, rejects naming school after Jeanne Marie Lusher 

After years of controversy and debate, the board governing Lusher Charter School officially voted on Thursday to change the school’s name to … something to be decided. 

At an emotional meeting that lasted almost four hours with 90 public comments, the Lusher board voted against renaming the school after pediatric oncologist Jeanne Marie Lusher. The four board members who opposed keeping “Lusher” in the name were Alysia Loshbaugh, Rachel Wisdom, Kiki Huston and George Wilson, while the two members willing to consider it were Brenda Bourne and Gary Solomon.  

“We are not the name. We are the community. We are the students. We are the faculty,” Wisdom said.

Viewpoint: Charter school is perpetuating Robert Mills Lusher’s racist legacy

By Corinne A. Williams, guest columnist

The pandemic along with the racial reckoning in our country and, most recently, Hurricane Ida have all put New Orleans’ kids in a position to experience a collective trauma — much like people my age experienced after Hurricane Katrina. In addition to traumas already thrust upon them, children attending Lusher Charter School are attuned to many internal school-related traumas. Their school leaders have put their best interests last for one of the simplest things that they have control over: the name of their school. Lusher Charter School is named for Robert Mills Lusher, a Confederate tax collector, segregationist and unabashed member of the Crescent City White League. By today’s standards and any anti-racist standard, Mr. Lusher would be someone who should be unequivocally rejected as a person to name anything after.

Viewpoint: After years of protest, Lusher Charter School could be renamed … Lusher Charter School

By Dana Eness, guest columnist
Lusher Charter School’s long-awaited name change may come as soon as the next meeting of the school’s board, the Advocates for Arts-Based Education, on Nov. 11. This follows a very painful and very public reckoning for the namesake of an avowed White supremacist, Robert Mills Lusher. It is the hard-earned outcome of marches and other forms of protest, resistance and attempts at dialogue with the administration led by students and alumni of color and supported by allies. The outcry continued in earnest following the murder of George Floyd in the spring of 2020.