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Created by the inaugural class of the Young Writers' Council, There Is No School Without Us is a literary conversation between current teachers and students from 1st-12th grade surrounding the current state of New Orleans Schools.

There Is No School About Us is also the 2018 Good Troublemakers publication, a Big Class publishing project that aims to challenges the status quo and address a social justice issue that responds to the needs of the time.

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Containing nearly 100 student and teacher reflections,

There Is No School Without Us offers varying, unedited accounts of their experiences. 

This year, all public schools will unify under one school board by July 2018. It seemed timely to have those who would be most affected by the transition, the students, share their thoughts about schools in the city. Big Class hosted free workshops, working with 360 students from 15 different schools.

Once workshops were complete, we handed over the submissions to our Young Writers' Council (YWC)—a collective of 10th-12th graders who identify as writers, artists and/or community changemakers. 

The YWC combed through hundreds of submissions, selected common themes, and chose those pieces that best represented the individual sections they created.

After choosing themes and sections, the YWC wrote creative nonfiction pieces about their own experiences with the subject matter to introduce the section.

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Raised by the Bell by Veronica Fernandez

"Raised By the Bell" is the first section of There Is No School Without US. This section explores the inevitable disillusionment with school that increases with age. Why do students lose interest in school and what keeps them from dropping out? 

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It's All About Protocol by Talon Washington

 

"It's All About Protocol" transports us directly into a high school classroom, smack dab in the middle of a student vs. teacher conflict. This piece asks crucial questions like, How can we increase understanding between students and teachers? How does trauma affect a students’ ability to handle stress and triggers? What happens when you share your trauma with your teacher and they still write you up?

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Problems Outside Our Textbooks by Sarah Wag

How mental health and problems at home affect performance in school and a students’ ability to stay present? 
We don’t always have the words to describe it, but the feeling is familiar. You walk into school before a big test and your heart races, palms sweat, and your stomach is knots. Now multiply that feeling by 100 and add in the fact you only slept two hours last night because after school you babysat your nephew, went to work at Burger King, and still had homework.

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The Rules We Need To Break by Jeremey Denessee

Who comes up with the rules? Why do we have them? When do rules become arbitrary? When does the “crime” not fit the punishment? This is an indictment on school rules. When tracing the origin of certain rules, particularly those surrounding appearance, it became obvious that these rules were made in a different time for a different generation of students, so why are we still blindly following them? 

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Sticks, Stones, and G.P.As by A’Lyric Thomas

Is bullying a natural part of adolescents or are we simply not doing enough to address bullying? How can a school have a zero tolerance on bullying when many bullies are oftentimes victims in another way? What happens the person torementing you isn’t another student, but a teacher? 

Something Missing In Our Schools by India Harris

What happens to the artistic student in a school with no art class? The aspiring computer geek with no coding classes? How do missed opportunities hurt students in the long run? What crucial role do teachers play in filling this gap? Are schools providing enough opportunities for learn what they want to know? 
 

Ink Is Thicker than Water by Malcom Freeman

When does school become like family? When does that line become blurry and how can teachers be both professional and someone students can trust like a friend? Sometimes a student’s inability and to focus in school and complete work can be traced back to an unstable, abusive, or unsafe home situation. What should a teacher do in that situation? 


During this process, the YWC discovered that most students writings were about, for, or to New Orleans teachers. The audience of the book shifted and the YWC quickly realized that in addition to students, they wanted this book to be for, and by, teachers as well. The YWC invited teachers from all over New Orleans to contribute to this year's Good Troublemakers’ publication, curating a collection of student and teacher writing to accompany their original creative nonfiction.

"We’re not asking for this book to change the whole system. We’re asking for this book to change individual classrooms, because we believe wholeheartedly that’s where it starts."

—Young Writers' Council Editorial Board