One of the reasons Public School Advocates (PSA) exists is to inspire a robust and constructive discussion about the challenges and opportunities facing our city’s public school system. Centering local school board elections in these conversations is important because they represent a formal opportunity to take stock of our collective progress and work left undone—every four years they give us the opportunity to chart a course for our public education system.
In November, we will vote on all seven seats on the Orleans Parish School Board. In a year where the top of the ticket will consume hours of our attention, we encourage everyone to get involved in the “down ticket” school board races. Your engagement in these elections undeniably shapes what happens to our students in the years following the election.
Our state and country are in the middle of multiple major crises—pandemics, natural disasters, racial reckoning, economic turmoil—and our national leaders are reacting differently to those challenges. After watching our nation’s two dominant political parties put their best show forward, one thing we surmised about national party platforms: neither party has a monopoly on what kind of education system our students in New Orleans need over the next decade. As a community we must continue to develop innovative ways to empower and teach the students of New Orleans for years to come as our next school board will be at the forefront of this effort.
The time calls for a forward-looking education platform for New Orleans, one that helps define the agenda before and after the November 3rd School Board elections.
A Forward-Looking Public Education Platform For New Orleans
Since 2012, one collective that has consistently engaged in this public process is Forward New Orleans for Public Schools (FNOPS), a coalition of 20+ non-profit organizations that highlights challenges and opportunities across all facets of our school system. Through this, a forward-looking education platform is developed. Over the past year, Public School Advocates became one of several new organizations to join FNOPS.
FNOPS evaluates candidates on a range of issues important to our local community, from culturally relevant pedagogy to funding equity, teacher pay , school accountability, and family enrollment policies. It is of New Orleans, by New Orleans, and for New Orleans—and the future is even brighter when we come together.
We believe these issues matter to students, families, and educators.
And while we are certainly not the only voices articulating a forward-looking education platform or engaging with school board candidates, we begin with a sharp focus on the core job responsibilities for local school board members, including:
- Ensuring policies that are student centered;
- Hiring a superintendent that is committed to developing and managing a forward-thinking portfolio of schools, as well as holding all schools to the highest level of accountability in their role as authorizer;
- Engaging the community, at large, as partners and advocating on important K-12 issues; and
- Ensuring that Orleans Parish School Board remains, at all times, financially viable.
The platform is serving as the centerpiece of what PSA, as part of FNOPS, is asking OPSB candidates to pledge a commitment towards. Over the next couple of weeks, PSA will dive deep into several planks of the forward-looking education platform.
The eight issue areas are:
- Racial Equity, Evaluation, Planning and Training
- COVID-19 and Emergency Planning
- System-wide Strategic Planning and Stakeholder Engagement
- Expansion and Replication of Successful Schools
- Equitable Access to an Excellent Education
- High Standards and School Accountability for Progress
- Responsible Resource Management
- Knowledge and Commitment to Best Practices
November 3rd is Election Day. Here’s How To Prepare.
Now is the time to make sure that you have a plan to vote! Election Day is November 3rd which is now just two months away. Make sure that you’re registered, check-out opportunities for early voting, and ensure that you know where you polling place is. As you prepare, become more familiar with the FNOPS forward-looking education platform as you hear from the candidates and consider the alignment of their positions. In the weeks ahead, we will announce which candidates signed-on so that you know where they stand. We aim to provide another tool to help us all think about the future we want and help you make your voice heard at the ballot box.