I’ve worked with public school parents, administrators, educators, legislators, and community members for more than 20 years to create better educational opportunities for the children of New Orleans. My chief qualification for school board, however, comes from being the parent of two public school students. At McDonogh 15 in the 1990’s, I worked with teachers and administrators to make sure my son, Khristopher, who learns differently, wasn’t left behind. I’ve done the same thing for my younger son, Kendrick at Lusher, before and after it became a charter school. Over the years, I’ve become an expert in parent’s rights and education laws because I’ve had to. In the process, I’ve trained other parents to advocate for their kids and discovered what an enormous untapped resource their energy is for reform.
After Hurricane Katrina, I was tapped to serve on the Recovery School District’s Special Education Tiger Team, its Facilities Planning Advisory Committee and its general Advisory Committee. In 2007, I worked with my neighborhood organization to bring the innovative New Tech High School model to Gentilly.
I’ve spoken on education reform to national audiences, been interviewed by Education Week, the New York Times, the LA Times, National Public Radio and UTNE reader because, after so many years in the field, my opinion matters.
Progress has been made; we’ve created “some” good schools. But now is the time to create a great school system. We need reforms that are fair and equitable for all children. Too many of our families feel that there still aren’t meaningful options in this “all choice” district. The Orleans Parish School Board has to have a vision and a plan for all of the children who are still trapped in failing schools. I believe that great schools are a building block of neighborhoods and will propose policies to make it easier for children to attend schools that are close to their homes. I want to create school communities that are innovative, safe, stable and sustainable, with strong ties to their neighborhoods and the families of their students. My experience with my sons’ schools proves this is possible.
Finally, the success or failure of education in New Orleans is personal for me. I graduated from Warren Easton, but my older brother dropped out and ultimately spent twelve years in Louisiana penitentiaries. I’m tired of seeing our children sent to prison because their school has given them little or no support or even worse, pushed them out with no options to continue their education.
True education reform will provide all of our kids with many options for success without having to fit into cookie cutter molds ‘reform schools’. Give me your vote, and together we will redefine reform.