Voices of New Orleans Youth 2022: How are our city's children doing after three unusual years?
A new study by Jamie M. Carroll, Douglas N. Harris, Alica Gerry, and Lindsay Weixler examines how students view their teachers, schools, and communities.
An essential component of any school system that is commonly left out in policy discussions is the thoughts and opinions of the students. We can easily access test scores and graduation rates, but the way students feel about their teachers, schools, neighborhoods, and themselves isn’t publicly available information. Gathering such insights is essential to create initiatives that help New Orleans’ youth succeed. In this report, we discuss the findings from the second New Orleans citywide youth survey, completed in 2021 – 2022. In particular, we summarize the results from middle and high school students in the public schools of New Orleans. Where possible, these results are compared to those of the 2018 – 2019 citywide youth survey. As the first survey was conducted prior to the pandemic and greater attention to systemic racism, our research provides an opportunity to compare students’ views of their schools, neighborhoods, and themselves before and after the COVID-19 pandemic began. We can also identify any disparities in experiences among different races/ethnicities. Our key takeaways are as follows: Good News In 2022, students reported better teaching quality, greater social support, and a feeling of being treated more fairly in school compared to 2019. Areas for Concern Since 2019, New Orleans students report valuing education less, exerting less self-control, and attending school less often. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, roughly 40% of students have reported heightened concerns about their academic performance and mental well-being. There are disparities in how students of different races view their schools and neighborhoods. Black students report experiencing worse school and neighborhood environments and having fewer mental health resources in schools than white students. The survey provided us with a wealth of data about what students were thinking and feeling. We grouped these data into six main topics: teaching quality, student academic beliefs and behaviors, school climate, neighborhoods, personal wellbeing, and COVID-19. In this report, our aim is to amplify the voices of New Orleans students by informing communal and educational institutions about the issues that impact them. We want to advocate for policies and practices that elevate New Orleans students and help them to reach their potential in life.