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A Modest Proposal for the Orleans Parish School Board




WHEREAS, generations of young New Orleanians were denied an adequate education in the city’s public schools prior to Hurricane Katrina as a result of chronic mismanagement by Orleans Parish School Board; and

WHEREAS, the State of Louisiana, as duly authorized by the State Legislature, rightly transferred authority over all but six Orleans Parish School Board schools to the Recovery School District in November 2005; and

WHEREAS, the Recovery School District’s intervention has led to a dramatic increase in performance among low-income public school students, and refocused the city’s education system on the needs of children and families rather than the prerogatives of powerful interests; and

WHEREAS, over the course of the past few years, the Orleans Parish School Board has shown itself to be so dysfunctional and fractured that it couldn’t organize a two-car parade; and

WHEREAS, the Orleans Parish School Board has chosen to spend the majority of its time fighting over the allocation of district contracts rather than issues that actually impact the educational well-being of children in its schools; and

WHEREAS, promising potential candidates for district superintendent wouldn’t touch the job with a ten-foot pole because working for the Orleans Parish School Board is akin to banging one’s head against a wall for a living; and

WHEREAS, outside of a vocal minority of citizens who stand to benefit from local control, most New Orleanians are content with allowing charter schools to decide whether or not to remain with the Recovery School District; and

WHEREAS, common sense dictates that no one is going to respect the wishes of the Orleans Parish School Board until it can successfully transition from a circus sideshow act to a serious governing body;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the citizens of the City of New Orleans request that the Orleans Parish School Board refrain from passing asinine anti-RSD resolutions that amount to little more than acts of political posturing aimed at the two dozen or so people who come to board meetings to act a fool.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be posted on the Pete Cook’s website for review by members of the general public.

Adopted this 15th day of October, 2014, in the Parish of Orleans, State of Louisiana.

Signed and Sealed,
The Citizens of New Orleans

Pete became involved in education reform as a 2002 Teach For America corps member in New Orleans Public Schools and has worked in various capacities at Teach For America, KIPP, TNTP, and the Recovery School District. As a consultant, he developed teacher evaluation systems and served as a strategic advisor to school district leaders in Cleveland, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. He now writes about education policy and politics and lives in New Orleans.

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PSA: It’s Millage Time Three School Taxes Are Up For Renewal On October 14th



Voters in New Orleans will be heading to the polls next month for the first round of several high-profile citywide races. While the contests for mayor and various city council seats have drawn plenty of attention, three important school board millages are also on the ballot (literally at the very bottom, so don’t miss them).

The millage proposal language on an Orleans Parish sample ballot from the Louisiana Secretary of State.

The three proposals simply renew existing property taxes for another decade and will provide our city’s public schools with approximately $38 million annually. Funding from these millages will benefit both charter and traditional schools, whether they’re under the oversight of the Orleans Parish School Board or the Recovery School District. If they are not renewed, schools will receive $850 less per student each year, resulting in cuts that will negatively impact our kids.

Public schools in New Orleans have made tremendous gains over the past 12 years and the revenue generated by these taxes will help ensure that progress continues.

That’s why New Orleanians should vote YES on all three school board millage proposals when they head to the polls on October 14th.

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PSA: NAACP Charter School Hearing Tonight Don't Let Critics Distort The Story In New Orleans



Tonight, the NAACP will be holding a hearing on charter schools at the New Orleans City Council Chambers (1300 Perdido Street) starting at 5:30pm. It will be the sixth hearing that the NAACP has held in cities across the country following their inexplicable call for a moratorium on charter schools last fall.

Flyer for tonight’s NAACP hearing.

The NAACP’s call for a moratorium has been roundly criticized by education reform advocates, as well as by the editorial board of The New York Times, which called the move “a misguided attack” by an organization that “has struggled in recent years to win over younger African-Americans, who often see the group as out of touch.” The Washington Post was even more scathing in their take on the moratorium, linking the NAACP’s recent turn against charters to the substantial financial support the group has received from the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association.

Angry charter school parents from Memphis confronted NAACP officials at their national meeting in Cincinnati last fall.

In any case, NAACP officials have apparently decided to dispense with any pretense of objectivity at tonight’s meeting by inviting a number of outspoken charter opponents to speak, including:

  • Bill Quigley, a law professor at Loyola who filed a specious civil rights complaint against a local charter network that was eventually dismissed by the Louisiana Department of Education for lack of evidence;
  • Walter Umrani, an anti-charter candidate for the District 4 seat on the Orleans Parish School Board who received only 13% of the vote;
  • Willie Zanders, the lead attorney in the class action lawsuit against the Orleans Parish School Board and State of Louisiana over the layoffs of school board employees following Hurricane Katrina that was dismissed by the Louisiana Supreme Court;
  • Adrienne Dixson, a former education professor from Illinois who recently compared the education landscape in New Orleans to “The Hunger Games”;

  • State Rep. Joe Bouie who has used his position on the House Education Committee to spread misinformation about charter schools and engage in obstructionism, as seen below.

Charter school supporters need to attend tonight’s NAACP hearing to ensure that the truth is heard and that the positive impact that charters have had on the children of this city is not denied.

I hope to see you there!

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