Rally to protest planned closing of Sarah T. Reed High School

School to officially shut down in 2015

Myron Miller will head to his alma mater, Sarah T. Reed High School, on Monday night to participate in a rally by a large coalition of New Orleans organizations that hope to prevent the school’s closure.

Reed is one of the shrinking number of schools directly run by the Recovery School District, which has shifted management of most of its schools to charter operators.

The school’s phase-out has been gradual. In recent years, Reed has shrunk by one grade each year. Next year, it will be down to only seniors.

This year’s juniors have been told they will be Reed’s last graduating class, but they are not likely to walk the halls of the Reed building for their final year.

The RSD will officially shutter Reed in mid-2015, when the final Reed diplomas will be issued to next year’s seniors. However, students have been informed they will probably spend their senior year at the Collegiate Academies campus on Read Boulevard, the former site of Abramson Elementary School.

Miller, 20, said he is less attached to the brick building on Michoud Boulevard than to the school’s culture, which he believes helped him understand his place in New Orleans and in the world, through African-American history classes and instruction about important New Orleanians.

As a result, the name Sarah Towles Reed name means something to him.

“I started learning about Sarah T. Reed as soon as I got there, in ninth grade,” Miller said, rattling off her biography: Reed, a schoolteacher who became an outspoken education advocate in the 1920s, helped to found a teachers’ union, encouraged partnerships between African-American and white teachers, and successfully urged Louisiana officials to pass teacher-tenure legislation and to overturn a ban against married women teachers.

One often-repeated criticism of the charter-school surge in the city is that national charter-school operators “parachuting” into New Orleans are less likely to provide a culturally relevant education for students. New Orleans charter operators such as Firstline Schools were founded with the idea that they could provide a charter framework from a more locally grounded perspective.

Monday’s rally, which begins at 5 p.m. in front of the school, is sponsored by more than 30 community organizations, including the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans.

Association spokesman Chris Sang said the coalition of groups would ultimately like to see Reed receive sufficient resources to become a “a high-quality high school” operated by the Orleans Parish School Board, because the coalition believes that locally elected school officials are more likely to be responsive to residents’ concerns.