Inside New Orleans High
This week, I got sent a preview of “Inside New Orleans High,” a National Geographic Channel documentary that premieres on the channel this Sunday.
[The program] chronicles the stories of students at Walter L. Cohen High School in New Orleans. The majority of the Cohen students are Katrina refugees, bused from other areas because no other schools could take them. And, as in many American teenagers’ lives, school is only part of the story. More money is spent on security than books, and violent gangs often dominate the school. With inner-city unemployment and infant mortality rates higher than those of some developing countries, in many households, drug and alcohol abuse are the norm.
I must admit that, having been inundated with stories of hurricane woe for the six weeks I’ve been here, I am suffering greatly from Katrina fatigue. I was not looking forward to watching this program. But, here’s the thing: the program is not about Katrina. It’s about the everyday struggle of three teens to make a better world for themselves. It’s about how many Americans living in inner-city America are living in the third world. It’s about how the America Dream is not accessible to every one of us. It’s reality and not some Joe-the-Plumber dream world that the politicians and the media are trying to sell you.
This program wasn’t some big bitch-fest about how the system sucks and the city sucks and the government sucks. It highlighted the near-impossible struggle that some American teens have to better themselves. The educators in the program were portrayed in a very favorable light. They were not willing to give up on these kids, despite their lives being threatened, despite the kids giving up on themselves, despite the violence that plagued the school on a daily basis.
With the election looming, I’m thinking a lot about the American Dream. I’m thinking that maybe a couple of Senators should take a year off and teach in one of these inner city schools. I’m thinking if they did that, then maybe they would start thinking that the 10 billion dollars a month we spend in Iraq to make those people free might be better spent making our own people free.
Stepping off the soap box now.
“Inside New Orleans High” premiers on National Geographic Channel Sunday, October 26 at 10PM ET/PT