Beyond Data: Youth Voice

Engaging youth can play an important role in improving youth outcomes. It not only gives them a sense of belonging and ownership in the community, but also their input can provide valuable insights and meaningful feedback on how issues impacting youth can be addressed.

The Data Center is committed to finding ways to capture student voice. Here’s what New Orleans youth had to say about data in The Youth Index 2016:

Child Poverty and Parental Employment

It seems like the lack of success for our population begins early. With data from The Youth Index showing that child poverty is at 37% in the midst of the fact that over 80% of families with children have at least one working parent, children are already feeling the pressure of low socioeconomic status before they are old enough to work.”

– African American Female, Youth Engagement Coordinator, Age 24


Births to Teen Mothers

This data was impactful because these teens are mothers that are not prepared for parenthood but have taken on the responsibility. The end result is a continuation of the cycle of poverty and violence, and families that lack the skills for self-sufficiency.”

– African American Female, College Student, Age 23


Kindergarten Readiness

Children with impediments to learning must be addressed in order to achieve readiness.”

– African American Female, College Student, Age 23


Percent of Out-of School Suspensions and Percent of Suspensions by Race

I think that the reason out of school suspensions are so high is because of minor infractions that don’t put children in danger. Schools try to justify it by saying they’re trying to discipline them. They are  really hurting kids by putting them outside of school because they have on the wrong color shoes or the wrong socks. For example, a student may lose their tie, but his parents can’t afford another tie, and the school doesn’t give him a chance to explain the situation. I think if schools would cut the ridiculous rules, the percentage would go down…

…I want to say fear, but that’s not the word I want to use. I think teachers and administrators just look at us (Black students) like if we don’t follow directions, we’re automatically never going to follow instructions, we’re being delinquent on purpose, or like there’s no explanation to why we’re doing something. They just think it’s in our nature to not listen. There are people in administration that do know that there’s a different side, so their first step isn’t to call the dean. They try to see what’s going on with the student before calling the dean or putting the student out of class. But, the teachers and administrators that don’t know how to handle kids or relate to them just assume things and they automatically call the dean or write them up for a suspension. That’s their first go to.”

– African American Female, Recent High School Graduate, Age 18


The percent of suspensions by race was troubling to me as the lack of education is one of the keys to solving many of the future problems young people, especially black people, in our city face. The Youth Index data shows that Black kids were suspended at over 3 times the rate as white kids in New Orleans. What are black kids doing that white kids aren’t? Or better yet, what are black kids getting suspended for that white kids aren’t?”

– African American Female, Youth Engagement Coordinator, Age 24


College Affordability and College Enrollment

Within one year of graduating from a four year institution, I have experienced increased tuition about three times before graduating.”

– African American Female, College Student, Age 23

I think that it’s sad. I think that it has a lot to do with money and what people can afford. A lot of the time the reason why people drop out is because they don’t have enough money to finish. I think that also it also has to do with educators. If students had more support from educators in college when they don’t come to class or show signs of dropping out or lack of commitment, see what the root of the problem is. For example, they may have a child or be responsible for taking care of parents.”

– African American Female, Recent High School Graduate, Age 18


Alleged Abuse and Neglect

What measures of mental health are taken to ensure the success of the children?”

– African American Female, Youth Engagement Coordinator, Age 24


Children in Adult Jail

What is the true purpose of detaining kids in adult facilities? It’s been proven that not only does this type of incarceration stunt social, educational and emotional development of a child, but studies also show that the recidivism grew by over 30% for kids who were detained…”

– African American Female, Youth Engagement Coordinator, Age 24