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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.

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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Are you kidding Peter? Do you really think this appropriate?


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Only in New Orleans–a beer themed levy campaign!

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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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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.

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