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AFT Is Now A Major Player In The Upcoming OPSB Races Campaign Finance Report Reveals $225,000 Contribution to PAC



It’s official. The American Federation of Teachers has become a major player in the upcoming races for the Orleans Parish School Board.

A recent filing with the Louisiana Board of Ethics reveals that the union has given a whopping $225,000 to Orleans Future PAC, a political action committee AFT launched in September to support candidates opposed to charter schools and the reforms New Orleans has undertaken in the years since Hurricane Katrina.

As reported previously, Orleans Future PAC is headed by former Jefferson Federation of Teachers president Meladie Munch, although the PAC’s filings are prepared by an out-of-state campaign finance consultant and its funds are held in an Montana bank.

Former JFT president Meladie Munch is the chair and treasurer of Orleans Future PAC.

Former JFT president Meladie Munch is the chair and treasurer of Orleans Future PAC.

Orleans Future PAC appears to be primarily focused on the District 6 OPSB race, which pits incumbent Woody Koppel against political newcomer, David Alvarez. Earlier this week, it was discovered that Orleans Future PAC was running ads on YouTube in support of Alvarez.

However, political insiders say that AFT’s recent sizable donation could mean that Orleans Future PAC is preparing to run television ads in support of Alvarez, which would significantly up-the-ante in what, up to now, has been a relatively low-key race.

In any case, AFT’s interest in the OPSB races show that the union is committed to undoing the reforms that have dramatically improved the city’s schools in recent years. Voters who want to see our schools continue on the path of improvement should support Woody Koppel on November 8th.

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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AFT On The Bayou Union Spends Less In Louisiana, But More On Charter Organizing in New Orleans



The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) spent less overall in Louisiana in the past fiscal year than it did in F.Y. 2016, but the union boosted its funding for charter school organizing efforts in New Orleans by more than forty percent.

An analysis of expenditure data from AFT’s 2017 annual report to U.S. Department of Labor shows that the union spent $2,326,573 in Louisiana during the fiscal year that ended June 30th, a slight decrease from the from $2.49 million it spent in the state in 2016.

About a quarter of AFT’s spending went to political activities, which included nearly $125,000 in payments to the political action committee of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, as well as a $15,000 contribution to Defend Louisiana, a super PAC behind Foster Campbell’s unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate last fall. In addition, AFT spent nearly $370,000 to influence last year’s Orleans Parish School Board elections, as I exposed in a previous blog post in January.

A diagram showing the distribution of AFT’s F.Y. 2017 spending in Louisiana.

AFT also invested heavily in organizing activities across the Bayou State. It gave nearly $192,000 to Red River United to support recruitment in Bossier, Caddo, and Red River Parishes. AFT spent another $184,000 on organizing in Monroe and $147,000 in Jefferson Parish.

Furthermore, AFT’s most recent annual report suggests that the union is stepping up its efforts to organize charter schools in the Big Easy. In F.Y 2017, AFT national poured $412,926 into its New Orleans Charter Organizing Project, a significant increase from the $292,000 it allocated in 2016. In all, AFT spent more than $850,000 on its New Orleans-based activities in the past year.

Although their recruitment efforts in the city have had mixed success, AFT’s willingness to spend substantial sums of money in New Orleans makes clear they still pose a serious threat. Over the past four years, AFT has steered more than $1.6 million to organize New Orleans charter schools and roll back the city’s reforms.

We need to remain vigilant to ensure that never happens.

Explore the data:

Read AFT’s 2017 annual report:

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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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