Those are both valid questions. Since this is our inaugural blog post, I figure I’ll start by explaining the answers to both of those questions and see where that takes us.
So, who are we? The short answer is, we’re the Loyola Institute for Quality and Equity in Education. (I know that’s a mouthful, so feel free to refer to us as the blander but easier-to-type “Loyola Institute”.) Housed in the College of Social Sciences at Loyola University in Uptown New Orleans, our mission is to provide empirical, objective data surrounding issues of equity in New Orleans public education.You know, that whole “making sure all kids have access to a high quality education” thing. This means that not only are we focusing on access issues and the needs of marginalized populations (like students with special needs and students from high poverty households), but that we are also focusing on ensuring uniform quality. Thus we’re concerned with quality teaching and sustainable teacher hiring practices, quality facilities, quality school transportation, and more. In the midst of all of the post-Katrina reforms, we (and many of the folks we’re working with) perceive a very real need for this type of data. The more data we have, and the more institutes and researchers producing such data, the more informed everyone involved in the policy and reform debates will be. An informed debate is a productive debate.
Going hand-in-hand with this dual focus on quality and equity is our emphasis on community involvement, collaboration, and co-creativity. We don’t want to be stuck in our ivory tower producing data that we think is needed. We want to work with folks on the ground to produce data that they need to be more effective. (I’ll go more deeply into our process values and the role of community involvement in one of my next posts.)
But why a blog? The internet is crawling with education blogs, most of which are very, very good. We’re hoping to get a couple of things out of this one. First and foremost, we want this to be a forum through which we (meaning bloggers and readers alike) can look at and talk about what’s going on in New Orleans public education. We’ll regularly post on news, events, and updates, exploring the equity angle wherever possible. Please, please, please feel free to comment on our posts with any thoughts, responses, or concerns. I would love to see this become the site of a vibrant, dynamic conversation.
We’ll also be posting on national policy news, exploring the significance for NOLA, and I’ll be regularly providing digests of education research being produced by other organizations in an effort to make that data more accessible for advocates and community members who might want to use it.
Expect posts from guest bloggers who can provide unique viewpoints on education in New Orleans and elsewhere, and expect the occasional personal anecdote or rant. As we move forward, we’ll hopefully get some regular features running to keep things interesting.
So, let that serve as an introduction to the Loyola Institute and our blog. Don’t forget to also check us out on our Facebook page and on twitter (@qualityequity).