There are some things I have gotten used to here in Louisiana, like having the word “parish” in my daily lexicon. There are other things that I have not, such as Saturday (really?) elections, crazy political ads, and interacting with local candidates in bars. One of the traffic court judge candidates made a point of coming to chat with all the YLC members at our College Admissions Project social last night. Anyway, while the two topics of this post may seem unrelated, trust me, they aren’t. I’ll get into that in a moment.
First though, I’d like to spend a little time talking about the BESE candidates. Now, this is a blog, hence I will give my opinion. It’s not really important whether people vote for the candidates I like, but just that they vote. I also want to preface this by saying although I am generally pro-charter school and pro-reform, I do not believe charter school are a panacea. I believe they are one possible avenue for changing public education and need to be one of many reform options. (You can still read the article on family/community engagement in charter schools that I co-authored here). That said, here are my thoughts.
I am in BESE (Board of Elementary & Secondary Education) district 1. Here’s what Gambit has to say about the race in my district:
“District 1 includes part of New Orleans, most of Jefferson Parish and all of St. Tammany Parish. Incumbent Jim Garvey, a Metairie attorney and a Republican, seeks a second term against two St. Tammany education activists — veteran educator Lee Barrios, an independent, and Republican Sharon Hewitt, a retired Shell Oil manager.”
Let me say that I have a serious problem with the fact that my choices are folks from the suburban areas. Why am I, in Orleans Parish, in a district with J.P. and St. Tammany? I’ll be voting for Jim Garvey because I am weary of the other candidates’ anti-charter school and pro-union stances. Moreover, this is an issue of urban core versus suburban for me. The school context is different in Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes, so it’s more than a little frustrating to have to choose among candidates from those places and not from New Orleans proper. Long story short, Garvey gets my endorsement because he has supported school autonomy, accountability, and reform throughout his first term.
I wish I was in BESE district 2 so that I could vote for Kira Orange Jones. I really like this woman and I think she will continue to move public education in New Orleans in the direction of change, reform, and innovation. Plus she’s smart to boot! (She did get her Master’s from Harvard.) District 2 incumbent, Louella Givens, has got to go. Mostly because she blocks progress in public education with her anti-charter stance, but also because she is not the type of leader any place needs– given her recent DWI arrest and $1million tax lien.
So those are my opinions on who to vote for in the BESE races affecting Orleans Parish, for what they’re worth.
And now, to bring in the young professionals thing. Tonight is 504ward’s Dine Around. I am thrilled to have been selected as a guest and will be joining other folks for dinner and discussion about…local politics! This is such a cool event because local leaders open their homes to host groups of people for the event. This will be my first time attending, and I’m really interested to see who I might meet tonight. It’s perfect timing and I am hoping to engage in some lively conversations about the elections this weekend. We’ll see if anyone can sway my opinions about the BESE candidates.
Maybe I just wasn’t in the right place in my life before personally, but I think there’s something about New Orleans that has me so much more engaged than I have been in other places I have lived over the past 5 years or so. I am loving the opportunities provided by 504ward and YLC. And still loving New Orleans.