TEACHER'S UNiONS SHOULD BE INVESTIGATING
Posted in the New Orleans Forum
#2 Jan 30, 2013
New Orleans School Board Race Flooded By Outside Cash
New Orleans School Board members make $800.00 USD's per month, but spend hundreds of thousands to get ON-BOARD the "MONEY TRAIN"!
In New Orleans, where 80 percent of students attend charter schools that are not overseen by an elected board, the race for a local school board seat has become the latest battleground over how to govern public schools in a city whose education landscape has been radically transformed in the seven years since Hurricane Katrina struck.
Though five other school board seats are also up for grabs on Nov. 6, the contest in District 3 stands out for the more than $110,000 in campaign funds that Ms. Usdin has raised so far from her supporters--some of them education activists from out of state who favor market-based reforms. Her contributors include former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and Boykin Curry, a New York City hedge-fund manager and founder of two charter schools in that city. Fundraising on behalf of Ms. Usdin--the founder of New Schools for New Orleans, a nonprofit created after the storm to launch new charter schools in the city--dwarfs that of Mr. Bonin, who has raised more than $24,000 so far, and Ms. Harper Royal, who reported roughly $5,500 in campaign cash as of the end of last month.
Potential for Influence
The amount of money--and the out-of-state sources for some of it--has prompted sharp criticism from Mr. Bonin and Ms. Harper Royal, as well as from some voters and educators in New Orleans, and is reminiscent of a Louisiana board of education race last year that attracted hordes of cash from out-of-state supporters for one candidate.
"You just have to ask what are they doing in our politics," said Roslyn Johnson Smith, a longtime school administrator in New Orleans who founded a charter school in the Treme neighborhood after the hurricane. "To me, it looks only like a fight over money and political control. It's a business conversation, not a conversation about educating our children."
Most local school board races are modest affairs, with 87 percent of elected members reporting that they spent less than $5,000 on their most recent election effort, according to a 2010 survey by the National School Boards Association, based in Alexandria, Va. In districts with at least 15,000 students, 10 percent of elected board members reported that they spent more than $25,000 on their most recent campaigns, according to the survey.
At the time of the storm, the Orleans Parish board oversaw 60,000 students in 100 schools and had become an embarrassing symbol of financial mismanagement and corruption.
But Mr. Bonin, elected to the panel in 2008, said the board has come far to restore its credibility.
"We've worked hard to right the ship," Mr. Bonin said. "We now have the highest bond rating of any agency in the city, and we have the highest cohort graduation rate of any district in the state of Louisiana."
Ms. Usdin's first foray into elected politics tracks similarly with that of Kira Orange Jones, the executive director of Teach For America of Greater New Orleans, who last year raised more than $450,000 from wealthy supporters, including billionaires Eli Broad, an education philanthropist, and Michael Bloomberg, the New York City mayor, to unseat a long time incumbent on the state school board.("Jackpot for Insurgent in Louisiana Contest," May 23, 2012.)
The 10 charter schools that have been incubated and opened in the city with substantial support from New Schools for New Orleans have posted a mixed record of success. Sojourner Truth Academy, a charter high school, voluntarily closed its doors at the end of last school year for poor academic performance. A handful of others showed gains in state test scores this year, but still received Ds or Fs under Louisiana's rating system.___
(c)2012 Education Week Bethesda, Md.
CORRUPT SCHOOL BOARDS ARE SELLING OUR CHILDRENS FUTURES TO THE HIGHEST BIDDERS: fatuous1
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