“Why can’t New Orleans have a charter school for middle class blacks?” A black physician and parent of a teenage daughter unashamedly asked me this question as we deboarded a first class cabin from our flight to the Crescent City. If I weren’t bourgie (African American slang for Bourgeoisie – pronounced boo-zhee), I would have cringed.
Our affectations won’t allow us to admit, but black middle class families really do need quality public schools. Many middle-income families simply can’t afford their pretentious tastes for private and parochial schools, and we also don’t want to send our children to overwhelmingly white environments for fear of cultural isolation.
So, who is fighting for the Bourgie Charter Academy?
A school may assuage the pressure that middle class blacks are feeling in New Orleans. Black families make up about 60 percent of the total population and approximately 90 percent of the public school population. Since 1999, the share of New Orleans’s black middle and upper income households dipped from 35 percent to 31 percent while their white counterparts increased from 60 percent to 68 percent. In addition, post-Katrina structural changes to New Orleans Public Schools altered the student bodies of the traditional middle-, working-class havens. Eleanor McMain and McDonogh 35 lost some of their luster after changes in their entrance requirements and demographics. Consequently, those schools have yet to prove it was the school and not its demographics that brought acclaim and pride.
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