An Intern’s Perspective: Hunter Kramer
By: Jill Zimmerman | May 2, 2012
Each semester, the Cowen Institute hosts Tulane undergraduates that are completing their required internship through the Center for Public Service. This is a guest post written by a research intern offering up his perspective on his experience, some of his most important research findings, and his thoughts on public education in New Orleans.
I first heard about the Cowen Institute when Debra Vaughan spoke to my intro education class. I was immediately fascinated by the uniqueness of New Orleans’s school system. With nearly 80 percent of public school students in charter schools, New Orleans is on the vanguard of cities exploring new education models and school reform efforts. The backbone of this system is the idea of school choice. Parents get to vote for good schools by sending their kids there, and bad schools will be closed because parents will refuse to send their children there. As an economics student I wanted to learn more about how these market forces worked. The Cowen institute is one of the few organizations that study this open enrollment system in New Orleans, so I decided to intern for them the following semester.
As an intern at the Cowen institute, I collected, processed, and analyzed parent surveys from the Urban League of Greater New Orleans’ Schools Expo held at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in March 2012. The survey asked parents important questions such as “What is your biggest challenge to engaging in your child’s education?” and “What information is most important to you when applying to schools?” Parents were also asked to rate the Expo itself. Although much of the work was data entry, it paid off at the end when I got to see my hard work in a detailed statistical break down of how parents responded to the survey questions. I then compared the responses on this survey to past data collected, including the Cowen Institute’s October 2011 parent opinion poll. Based on that poll, Urban League Schools Expo attendees (survey respondents who reported getting information from the Expo) are predominately low income, with 72 percent reporting an annual household income below $25,000. I highlighted my findings and presented them in a report to the Urban League. The staff at the Urban League was thrilled with the report.
Parents who completed the Urban League’s survey reported that time and transportation are the biggest challenges to engaging in their child’s education. When asked about the ways in which they are engaged, 78 percent of parents checked “at home,” 65 percent checked “at school,” and 37 percent checked “in the community.” Parents were also overwhelmingly satisfied with the Expo event in general.
Working for the Cowen institute as an intern was fun and rewarding. I would recommend it to anyone interested in education.
Hunter Kramer is finishing his junior year at Tulane University, majoring in economics with a history minor. He is also pursuing teacher certification with the Tulane University Teacher Preparation & Certification Program. He has volunteered as a classroom helper at Banneker Elementary and volunteers coaching lacrosse at Brother Martin. After he graduates he hopes to teach high school social studies.