Getting Our Children the Education They Deserve

My wife, Erin, and I moved to New Orleans with our two young children in July 2009, to be a part of the historic education reforms and improvements happening all over the city. We are both teachers and were drawn by the opportunity to contribute to what many said was the center for public education reform nationally.

We were quickly smitten with New Orleans (once the humidity broke!). Our neighbors regularly convened at a nearby playground. Our house of worship was warm and welcoming. We even found great friends in the families of our kids’ pre-school classmates. We had found our family’s home.

But after one year in New Orleans, we realized that the very thing that initially attracted us here also presented a most daunting challenge: public schools. Both Erin and I grew up attending public schools, spent our career working in public schools, and moved to a new city to work in the public school system. Now it was time for us to navigate the various school options and find an elementary school that was a good fit for our daughter. We were overwhelmed. Even as career educators, we found the process challenging. Every night we found ourselves asking the same questions:

What should we value in a school?
Does small class size really matter?
Is [insert private school here] really worth [$8,000 – $14,000] a year? I mean, I know it’s a good school, but is it that much better than the public options out there?
What does it mean to be arts-based? Does that even matter?
What is a community school?
How should I evaluate a school’s literacy program?
How important is diversity?
How should I interpret test scores?
What about foreign language instruction?
…and it went on and on.

These questions led me to start talking with other parents about what they wanted in a school and eventually motivated me to start working on what would become Bricolage Academy. It’s a journey that I have been on for 18 months and one that I hope to be on for a long time.

Early on in the process, I read a book called The Good School: How Smart Parents Get Their Children the Education They Deserve, by Peg Tyre, a nationally known education reporter and author who also wrote the NY Times Best Seller, The Trouble With Boys.

In The Good School, Peg breaks down education research in a way that is easy for parents to understand and act upon. The book answers some of the questions above and many more. I found it incredibly informative, even as a teacher. It is a must read for any parent choosing a school for their child.

It turned out that Peg was a friend of a friend and I jumped at the chance to bring her to New Orleans to speak with parents and families. I am excited to invite any parent in the New Orleans area to Loyola University this Saturday for a conversation with Peg. She’ll talk about her research, the contents of the book and engage in a spirited Q & A session.

This is a free event, and it is open to the public. If you have a child entering Kindergarten next year, or if you are re-evaluating the school options for your child, The Good School is a must read, and I strongly encourage you to attend this Saturday.

The details:

What: A Conversation with Peg Tyre, author of The Good School
When: Saturday 3:00 – 4:30.
Where: Loyola University’s Miller Hall (corner of Loyola and Calhoun), room 112

Sponsored by: Bricolage Academy of New Orleans

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Written by Josh Densen

Josh Densen is a career educator who taught at a KIPP charter school and served as a school district administrator in New York City. After receiving his MBA from The Wharton School, Josh relocated to New Orleans with his wife and two children to lead The Achievement Network and support the education reforms occurring in New Orleans. While navigating the Kindergarten application process for his daughter, Josh found out what so many New Orleans parents learn: amid the historic improvement occurring in New Orleans public education, there is a great need for a school designed to serve students from all income levels – together.


  1. […] that is easy for parents to understand and act upon,” Bricolage founder Josh Densen writes in a recent blog post about her upcoming appearance in New Orleans (3 p.m. Saturday in room 112 of Loyola University’s Miller Hall). Among the questions Densen says […]

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