So the New Orleans City Council has $4.6 million of unused funds from its deal with Harrah’s—dollars usually earmarked for public education—and instead of directing those funds to the Orleans Parish Public School Board, the City Council gives the money—all $4.6 million—to New Schools for New Orleans, a self-appointed organization that has been one of the chief architects of the so-called education reform movement that has failed our students.
But wait. Not only does the Orleans Parish School Board—you know the elected individuals that are supposed to be governing public education in New Orleans—decide that it is perfectly okay to give the money to this non-profit instead of a duly elected education board, but it urges the New Orleans City Council to do so and to deviate from an earlier version of the deal that at least included the Mayor’s Office of Youth and Family Services.
Then, the New Orleans City Council—in a move straight from that old furniture store commercial—morphs into the ever-loving Special Man and lets ‘em have it. Seriously, according to media reports, the City Council told the School Board to simply put its request to ax the Office of Youth and Family Services from this deal in writing, in other words, make it official. And then, the Council does it. Never mind that Youth and Family Services could have brought a unique perspective on ways to use some of those funds to improve and increase early childhood education opportunities that would be beneficial for the people of New Orleans or that its presence would have provided some level of public accountability in the deal.
So, not only do we have a School Board so uninterested in running schools that it is happy to divert a sizeable grant typically intended for itself to some new-fangled non-profit; but we now have a City Council happy to take direction from a School Board that has been so derelict in its duties that it has no desire to operate and oversee a single public school in the City.
Lord, MAKE IT MAKE SENSE!!!!
For real, state Sen. Joe Bouie has gone to the Board essentially begging it to “help me, help you put public schools in Orleans Parish back under your control,” and it’s nothing from this group. But it wants to tell the City Council how to use $4.6 million earmarked for education. If the School Board didn’t want it, we say the Council should have given the whole $4.6 million to the Office of Youth and Family Services. Instead, the Board tells the City Council to give $4.6 million to a private organization. And the Council does it.
MAKE IT MAKE SENSE, Lord. Yes, it’s called an education “grant”. But let’s be real, as far as we are concerned, these are practically public dollars when we consider all of the breaks Harrah’s receives and the fact that this $4.6 million is the result of a deal brokered on the backs of the hard-working citizens of New Orleans. Y’all don’t think Harrah’s is giving out millions for education because the executives at Caesers love the little children, do you? Nope, it is a part of the City of New Orleans’ lease agreement with the casino. Like we said, practically public money.
To add insult to injury, the School Board tells the City Council to get rid of the lone public presence in the deal by not allowing the Office of Youth and Family Services to be a part of it. And this City Council—with five new members who promised to bring change—folds like a cheap tent.
If somebody don’t make this make sense . . .
If we didn’t know any better we would swear that the School Board is doing a better job at running the City Council than it does at running schools. Or maybe we just have a City Council that is just like many of other elected leaders and appointed officials that do not care at all about the plight of public education and the students it serves.
In our effort to make it make sense, that’s all we can surmise.
Yes, we have seen the media reports that detail New Schools for New Orleans’ plans for this money. It has been reported that the private organization will use the funds to help serve at-risk students, including those in the city’s juvenile detention center.
Honestly, that sounds worthwhile, nothing we would take issue with on it face. You know what else it sounds like—something the Orleans Parish School Board could do with the same $4.6 million without diverting it to a private, non-profit that is a part of a failed reform movement responsible for the decimation of public education New Orleans.
In fact, the only thing that New Schools for New Orleans can do with this money that the Orleans Parish School Board can’t do is spend it with zero public oversight! And if the status quo, from here on out, is to divert this pot of money to New Schools for New Orleans, imagine the tens of millions of dollars that will funnel to this organization with zero public input or oversight over the next few years alone.
MAKE IT MAKE . . . ahhhh, never mind, it’s starting to make cents. (Pun fully intended).