School’s Out shows at PATOIS in New Orleans

Over the weekend, School’s Out,  a film about Baltimore’s school closings, screened alongside A Perfect Storm, film about the privatization of New Orleans schools, at PATOIS: A human rights film festival in New Orleans. The screening was a special session on educational justice. The panel included Jessica Shiller, producer of School’s Out from Baltimore, as well as A Perfect Storm producers: Karran Harper Royal, Raynard Sanders, and Phoebe Ferguson.

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The discussion was lively and included questions about how to engage teachers in the struggle to preserve public education, how gentrification schemes intersect with privatization of schools, and how more short videos can be made to highlight the challenges faced by public education now.

Although Baltimore and New Orleans are different contexts, they are majority black cities that face similar struggles around public education. Both have had school closures and charter schools opening in their place. They both face politicians who have implemented policies that have shrunk public voice in educational decisions and have delivered poor quality schools to the children of their cities. By working in solidarity across cities, the dots began to get connected and people can begin to see that there is a strategy in cities to privatize public schools and to limit voice and choice for the families trying to access schools for their children. Ultimately, what needs to happen, according to the panel, is organizing. Organizing to return public education to the public.

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