Connect with us


AFT’s AstroTurf Adventure Union Spent $370k on OPSB Races, But Zero In NOLA



An analysis of campaign finance records reveals that the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) spent far more on November’s Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) elections than previously reported.

According to filings with the Louisiana Board of Ethics, Orleans Future PAC, a political action committee launched by AFT in late-September of last year, spent nearly $370,000 in the seven weeks leading up to Election Day.

Contributor City State Date Amount
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS Washington DC 9/30/16 $144,000.00
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS Washington DC 10/20/16 $225,483.00
Holly Giarraputo (AFT’s campaign finance compliance consultant) Missoula MT 9/12/16 $150.00

Although the committee officially backed three school board candidates, including incumbents Nolan Marshall and Leslie Ellison, it appeared that the bulk of their efforts focused on the race in District 6, where political newcomer David Alvarez was running to unseat Woody Koppel, who has backed the city’s school reform efforts during his tenure on the board.

Leslie Ellison, David Alvarez, and Nolan Marshall.

As previously noted, Orleans Future PAC supported Alvarez’s bid with direct mail and digital advertising, but their campaign reports also show that AFT paid for door-to-door canvassing as well. Nevertheless, in spite of AFT’s well-financed efforts, Koppel went on to defeat Alvarez with 53% of the vote.

However, the most interesting revelation from Orleans Future PAC’s disclosures isn’t how much much AFT spent, but how they spent it. With the exception of Orleans Future PAC’s $100 registration fee to the Board of Ethics, every dollar AFT spent on New Orleans’ school board elections went to out-of-state consultants and media firms.

GBI STRATEGIES, LLC Cordova TN Payroll expenses-canvassing 10/3/16 $39,000.00
GBI STRATEGIES, LLC Cordova TN Payroll expenses 10/27/16 $20,000.00
GBI STRATEGIES, LLC Cordova TN Payroll expenses 10/21/16 $39,000.00
GBI STRATEGIES, LLC Cordova TN Digital advertising 11/3/16 $45,000.00
TERRIS, BARNES & WALTERS San Francisco CA Printing-Canvassing materials 11/3/16 $5,984.75
TERRIS, BARNES & WALTERS San Francisco CA Printing-Direct mail 10/23/16 $136,700.57
LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS Baton Rouge LA Registration Fee 9/12/16 $100.00
CAMPAIGN COMPLIANCE, INC. MIssoula MT Accounting fee 10/7/16 $1,075.47
FIRST INTERSTATE BANK Missoula MT Bank fee 10/3/16 $25.00
CAMPAIGN COMPLIANCE, INC. MIssoula MT Accounting fee 11/4/16 $1,080.45
FIRST INTERSTATE BANK Missoula MT Bank fee 10/20/16 $10.00
FIRST INTERSTATE BANK Missoula MT Bank fee 10/21/16 $25.00
FIRST INTERSTATE BANK Missoula MT Bank fee 10/25/16 $25.00
FIRST INTERSTATE BANK Missoula MT Bank fee 10/28/16 $25.00
FIRST INTERSTATE BANK Missoula MT Bank fee 11/4/16 $25.00
FREESTONE COMMUNICATIONS St. Louis MO Political consultant/travel 11/4/16 $16,418.09
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS Washington DC Refund 12/1/16 $25,638.67
CAMPAIGN COMPLIANCE, INC. MIssoula MT Accounting fee 12/1/16 $2,000.00

Although AFT’s last-minute involvement in the OPSB races caught many political observers by surprise, recent developments suggest it’s part of a broader push by the union to reestablish itself in New Orleans. AFT’s F.Y. 2015 and F.Y. 2016 reports to the U.S. Department of Labor show that the union has also steered more than $1.1 million towards organizing efforts in New Orleans since 2014.

Given the outcome of the recent OPSB elections and the mixed results AFT has had with organizing, it certainly doesn’t seem like money well spent.

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.




Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Keith Courville

Thank you for spreading the word!!!!




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:

Continue Reading


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.

Continue Reading





Send this to a friend