I’m at the Rising Tide 7 (“a conference on the future of New Orleans”) and since I brought my laptop I almost have an obligation to do a sort of live-blog of the proceedings. It’s streaming live, too, if you’d like to check in. So here goes:

10:00 a.m. Got pastry and coffee. Have to say I found the first keynote speaker, Lawrence Powell, bland and uninspired. Now I feel bad. More coffee.

10:17 a.m. Education panel about to start, the one I’m mainly here for. Got more coffee and pastry. Chatted with Michael Homan. Feeling better now. Thanks, Michael.

10:20 a.m. Made kind of a mess. Lots of crumbs below my chair. Might have to move soon.

10:22 a.m. Are charters better nationally than traditional peers? Brian Beabout: “A wash” and marginally better in LA. Caroline Roemer Shirley concurs but says LA charters are better because better granting mechanism. Elizabeth Walters: only 4% schools nationally are charter.

10:25 Lance Hill: charters force out students, effectively selective retention. Suggests LA Dept of Ed data on charter performance not valid.

10:27 Zack Kopplin: If taking public money for education, must be held accountable (with regard to school voucher programs).

10:31 Elizabeth Walters: Schools with at least 40 voucher students have to take same tests as public schools but only have to score at the 9th percentile of public schools (the same criteria used to shut down schools). “Vast differences” in accountability between vouchers and

10:33 Lance Hill: vouchers a minor story in scheme of education challenges. “Real risk of privatization in this state is charter schools.” Also craps on the notion that charters are a petri dish. “We’re not using scientific methods here.”

10:42 This update has nothing to do with the conference but … a couple weeks ago one of our cats brought in a mouse, still alive, and it got away and took up refuge in our stove. Dedra just texted me:

I think the rat-mouse is gone. Cairo [our dog] got all excited and it was in the hall. He chased it around the LR and DR and I just let it out the front door.

A fantastic development.

10:46 Jessica Williams: “Teachers are scared to talk to the media.” She suggests such insecurity could be tied to the lack of collective bargaining.

10:50 Elizabeth Walters: Nobody, including unions, wants incompetent teachers in classroom.

10:52 Caroline Roemer Shirley: How to better prepare teachers? Stats can be used to support any position. Hates the Teach for America vs. Unions argument. Wants parents to have say in who is teacher and principal of schools.

10:54 Zack Koppelin: but if public money is used … funding private schools with public money violates constitution.

10:55 Lance Hill: Choice does not exist. Veteran teachers get fired because they stand up to principals. Principals want “young malleable teachers.” He’s annoying Caroline Roemer Shirley.

11:00 Caroline Roemer Shirley volunteers that she can’t define quality education.

11:02 Lance Hill: market model problematic. Unattainable standards and fixed revenues. Incentivizes the exclusion of students. Showcase schools skim from lower performing schools. “These are real children behind these numbers.” “There’s more transparency on a can of beans than there are for charter schools.”

11:05 Caroline Roemer Shirley says she hasn’t seen Lance Hill at Orleans Parish School Board meetings. She says her organization advocates school boards to have meetings on days/times when people can more easily attend.

11:09 Lance Hill: “There is not a single charter school in the city where parents can un-elect board members.”

11:11 Lance Hill stopped going to school board meetings when they no longer had authority over schools.

11:14 Caroline Roemer Shirley: 104 charter schools in LA. “I think charter schools are held to quite rigorous standards in Louisiana.” It’s not just charters who have problems with public meeting laws.

11:17 Lance Hill: “Accountability requires democracy.”

11:21 Lance Hill: There’s been a revolution in neuroscience about how people learn. Thinks teachers should have a foundation in neuroscience. Cites example of Finland for teacher mentor programs. Compensation should be better to make more attractive profession, both to attract best candidates and to keep people after they become experienced teachers.

11:29 Caroline Roemer Shirley decries hostility in education debate. Hate that bitch. Sorry, had to do that.

11:30 Questioner points out city that is 60% black has a public school system that is 97% black.

11:31 Lance Hill: 60% of black children in New Orleans live in poverty and only 1% of white children in N.O. live in poverty.

11:32 Okay, I’m out of here. I may come back in a couple hours.


One small details I’ve always liked about attending the Rising Tide conferences. In the past, the name tags have featured pen names and names of websites, which I always thought fostered a bit of conversation between conference attendees, and the conference was more a place to put faces to names. It could be it’s too much of a logistical burden, and the conference has certainly grown substantially, but I think that’s an unfortunate change.

This year, Dedra had other things going on and wasn’t inclined to go to the conference, so I prodded my daughter to use Dedra’s ticket and come back with me to catch Lolis Eric Elie‘s keynote speech. (I promoted it as an opportunity to “Be G Bitch for a day!”)

We had to fold-in the paper from last year’s name tag to affect full G Bitch glory, but we did and I got to drop my “G Bitch for a day” joke a couple times. And we both thought Elie’s speech was fantastic. The Girl is a high school sophomore and I was proud that she was engaged by Elie’s passionate plea to see the continuity of threats African American culture in New Orleans has faced from local governmental institutions. I personally also appreciated Elie’s description of how he came to better appreciate New Orleanians who moved here as adults because of their abiding affection for local culture. A nice outing with the kid.

Next, we went off to Blockbuster …



Derek Bridges lives in New Orleans, trading in words and pictures. A carpetbagger of long standing, he grew up in the top right corner of IL and later went to college in the middle cornfield part. He has also lived in MS and FL, for educational purposes only, and was diasporized for a time in TX.

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