Historically, education has been the “way out” for Black people in America. For 400 years we have struggled to throw off the yoke of oppression with the mantra of our forebears ringing in our ears—you know well their compassionate commands –“study hard, educate yourself and uplift your community”—accompanied by the gentle reminder that education was the one thing that could never be taken from you.
That has been our course—from our enslaved ancestors who faced death for learning to read and write to those of recent past generations who courageously battled the inherent inequity of Jim Crow in courthouses, on the schoolhouse steps and on the streets because they understood that access to a free, quality and equitable education was the path to true freedom.
That is why EDUCATION is THE ISSUE as we approach the upcoming Oct. 12 primary, especially the BESE election.
We at The New Orleans Tribune are convinced that the denial of learning opportunities and the squandering of public dollars through the dismantling of public education during the nearly 15 years since Hurricane Katrina have been just as hurtful to our cause as anti-literacy laws and just as injurious as Jim Crow. This latest attempt by the power structure to highjack our schools and privatize public education is the latest salvo in a never-ending fight to diminish the opportunities and resources that are available to the young people in Black communities. Make no mistake—the power structure recognizes the equalizing influence of education. The very history of “school choice” is rooted in White flight, resistance to segregation, and opposition to true equity in the immediate wake of Brown v. The Board of Education.
Here we are some 65 years later, and little has changed. And if you don’t believe it, consider this: public schools in Orleans have only become more racially segregated since Katrina. White students make up roughly 10 percent of the public school student population in New Orleans; yet, they comprise nearly 64 percent of the population at the top performing schools in the city, according to a 2018 report released by the Cowen Institute.
Here at The Tribune, we are convinced that this is exactly why big-monied interests are intent on influencing Louisiana’s BESE race and pushing the so-called reform movement. They want school choice, to be sure, but not for us.
That is why Education is THE Issue. We must ensure that every child in our community has equity in access and opportunity. It is not enough to ensure that our respective children or grandchildren are faring well. We must protect all of our children.
The reality is our schools have always—ALWAYS—been underfunded and undermined. Yet, because of the courageous dedication and determination of our African-American educators, somehow they still managed to provide our communities and our families with what was needed. Even when they were given the worst facilities and resources, they were pillars and producers—not profiteers and pillagers.
We must vote as if the children—all of the children—are depending on us, because they are.
With that in mind, The New Orleans Tribune makes the following endorsements in the Oct. 12 primary:
JOHN BEL EDWARDS
We strongly believe that Gov. John Bel Edwards deserves another term to continue the work he started four years ago. We are excited about his plans to focus on early childhood education and encourage voters to support his bid for re-election.
Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser’s plans for a Civil Rights Trail in Louisiana represent a good start toward more inclusion in the state’s tourism office. And if re-elected, we want to see more—more intentional reaching out to include and support the diverse businesses, entities and institutions that are at the heart of our city’s and state’s cultural heritage. It is an area that we believe has been lacking and one in which we expect to see change. We are expecting more—more than lip service, more than election-time phone calls and visits.
Secretary of State
Everything about Gwen Collins-Greenup excites us ever since she made a surprise showing in the 2018 special election, where she ended up in the runoff. Don’t be fooled, however. Gwen-Collins Greenup did not “come out of nowhere”. She has more than 20 years of experience as a legal secretary for the state Labor Department, a businesswoman, a deputy clerk of court for East Feliciana Parish, and as a director at Baton Rouge City Court.
We welcome her plans to support and champion policies that increase access to the polls and voter participation.
Derrick Edwards has the skills and experience to serve as Louisiana’s next state treasurer. He promises to be accountable and transparent and we believe he will serve with honor.
BESE District 1
Lee Price Barrios has the passion, commitment, background and experience to advocate on behalf of parents, students and teachers at BESE. A retired educator, Price-Barrios already works tirelessly as an education advocate. It is time for change, and she is the best voice for BESE District 1.
BESE District 2
Again, commitment and experience are what points us to Dr. Ashonta Wyatt. It’s time for change at BESE and she is the leader District 2 needs. It is not lost on us, however, that veteran educator and attorney Shawon Bernard has also been a strong education advocate who would represent the people of BESE District 2 with integrity and accountability as well. However, we believe this race is too important not to definitively back ONE candidate against the incredible machine that supports the incumbent, Kira Orange Jones. Wyatt is passionate; and we have no doubt that she will be a strong voice for our students, parents and teachers and taxpayers.
State Senate District 3
JOSEPH “JOE” BOUIE
Dr. Joe Bouie is right. He is uniquely positioned to provide the type of leadership that the people of State Senatorial District 3 deserve from Day 1. He has stood up for right when others would not. Through his efforts to return schools to local control and prohibit schools from being built on toxic waste sites, Dr. Bouie has shown he cares about the communities he serves.
State Senate District 5
State House District 91
State House District 94
State House District 97
Because experience matters, we are endorsing Eugene Green in this race. His background in economic development, his service to the New Orleans community as a member of several boards and commissions and his experiences as a business owner make him ideal for this position. While we fully endorse Green’s candidacy, we are impressed by Matthew Willard’s desire to build coalitions to help address the issues that face residents and his willingness to fight for the people of New Orleans; moreover, we look forward to seeing him play an important leadership role in the future.
State House District 98
We truly believe that the voters of State House District 99 cannot go wrong Adonis Expose or L. Jameel Shaheer as their next state representative.
State House District 99
ADONIS EXPOSÉ or L. JAMEEL SHAHEER
Because of his role at the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, Exposé possesses experience and relationships that will serve him well if elected. He is active throughout New Orleans and understands the needs of the community and the people he wants to represents.
A businessman and father, L. Jameel Shaheer believes he has what it takes to address the challenges that face District 99. His idea for an economic development zone in the Lower Ninth Ward indicates that he wants to work hard for the District and that he understands and appreciates its importance to the larger New Orleans community. As a military veteran, former teacher and firefighter, Shaheer has already proven that he is willing to sacrifice to serve his community.
State House District 100
Jason Hughes is our choice for District 100. We believe he will bring new ideas and an independent voice to Baton Rouge and work passionately on behalf of residents.
And there you have it—Our endorsements for the Oct. 12 primary. Still, don’t just take our word for it. We have included profiles of several candidates in this issue. Please read them. Also, you can visit our Facebook page to watch our interviews with candidates. Attend candidate debates and forums. Visit their websites to learn more about their positions. And then make the decision that is best for you and your interests.
CA NO. 1 (ACT 444 – HB 234) – Tax Exemptions for Outer Continental Shelf
Offshore Goods Property Tax Exemption
This proposed amendment would eliminate property taxes on raw materials, goods, commodities and articles stored for maintenance if destined for the Outer Continental Shelf. While part of the United States, the Outer Continental Shelf is not subject to the jurisdiction of individual states. However, we believe that oil and gas companies should pay taxes on the on raw materials, goods, commodities and articles that they own and store in our state. If this amendment passes it will limit the revenue that local governments can generate while providing a tax break to huge, wealthy corporations.
CA NO. 2
(ACT 445 – HB 62) – Amend Education Excellence Fund
Add Schools to the Education Excellence Fund
This proposed amendment would add more recipients to the state’s Education Excellence Fund. Specifically, the additional recipients would be Thrive Academy, the Louisiana State University Laboratory School, the Southern University Laboratory School, and the Louisiana Educational Television Authority (LETA). We support this amendment as an expeditious way to get this schools added to the fund, while also noting that we would rather see a long-term solution to ensuring that schools and educational activities that are eligible to receive disbursements from the fund can be added without repeatedly going to the voters for a constitutional amendment.
CA NO. 3 (ACT 446 – HB 428) – Remedy for Unconstitutional Tax Paid
Expanding the Board of Tax Appeals Jurisdiction
The proposed amendment would allow the Board of Tax Appeals to rule on whether taxation and fee matters are constitutional under state or federal law. Currently, the individuals or businesses can appeal a decision made by their local or state taxing authority. This amendment would let taxpayers have their entire tax dispute heard in one forum and could expedite resolution, as well as the receipt of any refund due to taxpayers. We have some concerns that the rulings of this three-person board, whose members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate, could be politically influenced. However, those concerns are assuaged by the fact Board of Tax Appeals decisions could be appealed to state courts and that taxpayers still would have the option to take their case to the courts instead of the Board of Appeals.
CA NO. 4 (ACT 448 – SB 79) – Allow New Orleans Property Tax Exemptions
New Orleans Tax Exemption for Affordable Housing
The amendment would grant the City of New Orleans the ability to establish property tax exemptions for residential properties that provide affordable housing. It would only apply to developments of 15 or fewer units placed on the long-term rental market. Of course, we support Mayor Cantrell’s efforts to create more affordable housing opportunities for residents in New Orleans as we have been supportive of all of her initiatives and programs during her tenure. However, this particular proposal causes us to pause for several reasons—chief of which is its ambiguous nature. For example, how is “affordable” defined? What are the limits? What type of property owners get to benefit. Will this be designed for corporate owners of multi-family unit building only? Or can the local property investor who owns several individual residential properties also benefit from tax relief if they use those properties to provide affordable housing? If so, will there a be cap on the number of units an individual can own versus the number a corporation can own? We have lots of questions. Of course, when we press for details, the response is that the New Orleans City Council will work out the particulars. That’s just not good enough. We believe voters, taxpayers and property owners should know exactly what this program will look like before it is a ballot item.
Remember, your vote is your voice