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Audio: ReNEW program takes extra steps to teach its most troubled students

Around the country, about one in five children suffer from a mental health disorder. In New Orleans, experts say that figure could be even higher, given the trauma induced by Hurricane Katrina and the city’s violence.

Having a mental illness makes it that much harder to concentrate in class. Still, some of the city’s schools are doing what they can to help these children learn.

Here’s a close look at how one charter operator, ReNEW Schools, is working with its most troubled students.

Audio story

This story was produced in collaboration with WWNO-FM, New Orleans’ NPR affiliate, and The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education-news outlet affiliated with Teachers College, Columbia University.

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About Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams stays on top of the city's loosely organized collection of public schools, with a special emphasis on charter schools. In 2011 she was recognized by the Press Club of New Orleans for her reporting on charter school transparency and governance. In 2012, she was part of a team that received a National Edward R. Murrow Award for their work following a New Orleans family's recovery after Hurricane Katrina. She graduated from Edna Karr Secondary School in Algiers, and she obtained her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. She can be reached at (504) 575-8191.

  • nickelndime

    ReNEW: Training in counseling and special education, even specialized training, is NO substitute for a (undergraduate/graduate – degreed) professional education program/curriculum that Education majors/students receive and become the highly skilled and trained professionals who then become licensed, credentialed, certified, vested, experienced “teachers.” These individuals are not the freelance, at-will employees that people like John White, Patrick Dobard, and the CMOs and network charters would like the public, and even the teachers themselves, to believe. Experienced, certified (and yes, PRAXIS-tested) classroom teachers should be the “pool” for school administrators, even if the new buzz word is “CEO, not the other way around, as in “get the job and we will get you trained.” Fast-tracked urban educators – teachers and administrators – or even specially trained fast-tracked urban educators is not the best way to reach at-risk youth, much less at-risk youth who bear the most emotional scarring in a population.

  • nickelndime

    John White is the Superintendent of Education for the State of Louisiana. BESE is White’s boss. White reports to BESE. John White is unknowledgeable, untrained, and unprepared to lead Education in Louisiana. And oh yes, let me add that John White is highly overpaid. I see many similarities between BESE and John White/CEO and the nonprofit boards of public charter schools and the CEO/Principals who are in charge of charter schools. These boards rely greatly on reports, information and judgement calls from their CEOs. These CEOs are not necessarily bound by credentials or experience. In too many instances, these boards choose and retain individuals based upon the individual’s ability to maintain order and keep the public out of their stream of consciousness. In other words, the quieter things are, the better these boards think things are. Enough! Things are not good in Louisiana. This entire situation needs to be reconsidered and put in motion again – but this time in the right direction. BESE is incorrect. and John White needs to be replaced. White is the wrong CEO for Louisiana, and the forces who brought him here need to be corrected!