Yesterday I took the Praxis II. Sitting through three tests in one day for a total of four hours of testing, and about three hours of waiting outside the building, is rough. Throughout my testing experience (which did NOT go as well as planned), I kept finding myself wondering how on Earth we can let the best and brighetest students in the EBR school system go to a school as run down as Baton Rouge Magnet?
In my observations in the past two years, I've gone to Woodlawn (which has a brand new building), McKinley Middle (also brand new building), U-High (which speaks for itself), and Broadmoor. From my experiences in those schools, I just assumed EBR was on top of its game with keeping the schools aesthetically pleasing for students. Boy was I ever wrong.
At Baton Rough High, I kept finding myself distracted from the test by the loud air conditioners and the numerous paint chips pointlessly hanging from the wall. I left absolutely miserable, not as much from the test, as from the dark lighting and poor overall aesthetic value of the environment. How can we expect our students to excel when this is what they have to sit through every single day? If BR High is where we are sending our BEST students, I can't imagine what the buildings for some of our "lesser-valued" schools are like. And we wonder why our school system isn't getting any better.
I realize now more than ever the importance of the Paint the Town project in NYC, and am very proud to have been a part of that, but I can't help but wonder what can be done about this problem in the schools here in Louisiana. Belle Chasse was no Taj Mahal, but at least we kept it clean and gave it a paint job every so often. I couldn't tell you from looking at it if Baton Rouge High has EVER had a makeover. Now I know they've talked of tearing this building down and starting from scratch, but it's not the building itself that's a problem. The building is an historic landmark which, just like all other landmarks, should be preserved, only I think with more urgency, considering its purpose.
My new goal for the next year of my life (before I move to another part of the country that is...) is to find a way to get involved with fixing up schools here in Louisiana. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know.