The Learning Curve

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 01 2012

When hope is all you have… and it ain’t enough.

There were more violent incidences at my school today. 16 students were arrested. 15 for one incident, 1 for an unrelated incident shortly before. I’ve been reading the news stories and hearing outsiders analyze our school’s problems, sitting as they come up with nothing but euphemisms and platitudes. Even as an insider, it’s hard to see where the waves meet the shore, where the storm stops.

If you go to or, you’ll see that, of the ┬átop headlines, about half concern recent violent crimes. One of my roommates came home tonight and checked on me (she’d heard about today’s melee on the news) and also told me that two hours ago there was another shooting, claiming two more lives, just five minutes’ drive away.

I love this city. It’s obviously much different than the city I grew up loving as I visited here once a year or less, now that I’ve immersed myself in its layers. There’s so much more to know and love that you don’t absorb as a visitor. Similarly, there’s so much more by which to be disturbed and saddened.

The problem with crime in New Orleans isn’t new. It is a terribly violent year thus far (more so than last year), but the nature of these crimes shocks no one. And that may be the saddest part – the fact that so many of ours are being claimed and so few of us are batting an eyelash. Something has to give… right? Eventually, it must stop?

There’s no real way for me to talk about what’s going on at my school without talking about what’s going on in New Orleans. There is nothing happening at my school that isn’t also happening in the rest of this city – in every part of it, to be sure.

I am hopeful that we can end this year safer than we started it. I have hope that we can make it to the end of the year with no more arrests, no more injuries. I have hope that my students won’t get caught up in the violence – won’t become peripheral victims of more meaningless crimes. I have that hope, but that hope won’t blanket our community and protect us from the worst of our elements. There is something simmering below us, something that will erupt because we won’t do anything but let it sit. It breaks my heart to know that too many more people will be caught in what boils over.

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