Get the real story of New Orleans education reform to PTO 2014!






Time Left

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Project Overview

Ashana Bigard and Derek Roguski use the power of theatre and story to grow education justice in New Orleans. We have been invited to facilitate an "Anti-Oppression Dialogue" at the 20th annual Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference in Omaha, Nebraska. We believe that people in our networks will want to support us in bringing the story of New Orleans education injustice to this international conference, where we will also gather inspiration, support, and strategies to continue strengthening and nurturing this movement through cultural organizing.

More about the Project

The Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference has brought together popular educators from around the world for 20 years. Before their deaths the conference was attended by the authors of the world changing books Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Theatre of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal respectively. The theme of this year's gathering is "Review, Reflect, Reimagine: Where have we been? Where are we? Where are we going? (And HOW?)". In order for this community to adequately reflect on the multiplicity of work inspired by Freire and Boal  that has been taking place around the world for decades, it is critical that our voices from the struggle in New Orleans be heard. Also, the various strategies, techniques, inspiring stories, potential allies and supporters that are so abundant at this historic conference will strengthen our work as cultural organizers nurturing the grassroots movement for education justice in New Orleans.

Four things we want out of the conference -

1. Learn and practice more strategies/techniques/methods for doing what we do: popular education for liberation.

2. Gather the stories of others in resonant struggles using these strategies.

3. Connect with potential allies from around the world.

4. Make connections with potential funders and supporters from around the world

3 things that we offer the conference -

1. Lessons and strategies we've learned through doing this work in New Orleans over the last several years

2. Our warning stories of struggle in New Orleans, which is the front line for austerity measures in education and beyond

3. Our allyship 

4. Sharing stories of our challenges and achievements working as a team across differences of race, class, and gender.

After returning to New Orleans, we also plan to host a Report Back to share what we learned and gathered with members of our community. We will write a corresponding written report and use the whole experience of attending the conference then reflecting on it (in the spirit of Freirian praxis: the ongoing practice of action-reflection-planning-action... and so on) to build toward a Forum Theatre piece (inspired by the work of Augusto Boal and the Theatre of the Oppressed community) that creates space for honest dialogue about the obstacles to racial, cultural, and economic justice in New Orleans schools.

About Us

Ashana Bigard is a trainer, advocate, and educator who has worked as a parent coordinator and lead trainer for local advocacy groups including Agenda for Children, New Orleans Parent Organizing Network, American Friends Service Committee and for the Highlander Research and Education Center of New Market, Tennessee. She has facilitated interactive workshops for over two-thousand parents and students, around community building/engagement, healing from trauma, and strategies for community development. She has consulted with a wide array of groups and individuals including: teachers, school leaders, executive directors, CEOs, graduate students in education (including Harvard University and Macalester College), teacher educators (including Tulane, Georgia State, and University of Illinois), and public officials to help them strengthen their capacities to serve their students and communities. 

Derek Roguski is a trainer and popular educator with four years of experience using socially-inclusive and transformative facilitation methods, including Theatre of the Oppressed, Theatre for Living, and Story Circle Methodology in workshops with teachers, students, parents, community members, and organizations in New Orleans and elsewhere. His work in New Orleans includes the co-founding and directing of the teacher training and support group the New Teachers Roundtable. He has facilitated workshops at conferences with local, national, and international participants (including the International Deleuze Studies Conference and CEPNO’s Zooming Out conference series), as well as local groups (including Occupy New Orleans and Critical Resistance New Orleans).

We are interested in deepening our understanding of Theatre of the Oppressed because we believe in its capacity to create spaces for people to imagine and begin to practice a deep, honest solidarity that is a prerequisite to effective collective action.

How You Can Help

You can help by donating what you can and sharing this urgent campaign with other folks who believe in the power and necessity of transformative cultural organizing for racial and social justice in public education.

How We'll Use the Funds

The funds go straight to the basics! We need money for transportation, registration, lodging and food. If there's any left over it will be used to produce the Report Back and to plan and actualize a Forum Theatre piece that makes space for critical community dialogue tackling the obstacles to education justice in New Orleans.