Ugliness in New Orleans school board meetings deters superintendent candidates

The Orleans Parish School Board has been at loggerheads for two years, unable to select a new superintendent. For ideas on how to break the impasse, The Lens invited educators and advocates — including all members of the school board — to weigh in. We are publishing their thoughts in the next week.

The basic question: What does the board need to do to break the logjam and convince a top-notch educator to take charge as superintendent?

Sarah Usdin

Sarah Usdin

For the school board to attract an effective superintendent, we must first become a more professional and respectful board — respectful of one another and of the public.

Whether among board members or from the public in attendance, all dialogue should be conducted with appropriate decorum and respect. If we tolerate name-calling and verbal slurs, productive discussion becomes impossible. We need to follow our own established procedures and policies to prevent our meetings from degenerating into ugliness and chaos.

As elected officials, we are expected to lead and set a good example. What kind of an example do we set for our children if we cannot conduct meetings guided by common decency? Moreover, what qualified candidate would want to work in such an adversarial and disrespectful environment?

Secondly, our Board must be able to articulate a shared vision and focus on which candidate has the background, qualifications, and ability to help realize this vision. Our vision should include the commitment to provide support for all public schools and educators who are getting the job done for our students — whether they are in an OPSB or RSD school. Our mission, as the school board elected by the citizens of New Orleans, is to effectively support the education of all the children in the community.

Sarah Usdin, founder and former director of the nonprofit New Schools for New Orleans, represents District 3 on the Orleans Parish School Board.

Correction: The tagline on this post originally misstated Usdin’s district. She represents District 3, not 6. (Oct. 14, 2014)

Help us report this story     Report an error    
The Lens' donors and partners may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover.
  • nickelndime

    I give up, Sarah, what qualified applicant would want to work in such an adversarial environment? One of yours (someone you have groomed or interned over at NSNO), I would imagine!

  • nickelndime

    Strike 3, THE LENS! You have struck out – GLAPION, PERRY, USDIN!

  • Lee Barrios

    Passive aggressive. You, Sarah, incite the frustrations if those speaking before the school board. Your NSNO sucks money from public schools as it promotes its privatization agenda. You and your board compadres are purposely delaying the appointment of a qualified superintendent until the time is ripe for the change in governance that would retain a faux democratically elected board with independent contracts with autonomous charters led by unelected and unaccountable members.

  • nickelndime

    The OPSB has granted waivers for its charter schools to serve liquor on campus during public events and fundraisers. I think we could move this whole thing up a couple of notches if liquor (hard liquor) is served over at McDonogh 35 before and during board meetings. Tired of those ugly board meetings, Sarah!? “YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHING YET!” and “LET’S GET IT STARTED IN HERE.”

  • Concerned

    As the parent of a child in an Orleans Parish public school, I applaud Sarah Usdin. Of course the OPSB needs to follow its own procedures and protocols. Behavior that wouldn’t–or shouldn’t–be tolerated in a classroom reigns at school board meetings. That would be funny if it weren’t so sad. The ongoing chaos hurts our kids and repels, rather than attracts, effective candidates for superintendent.

  • nickelndime

    I don’t think that both Usdin and Koppel can represent District 6 of the OPSB – at the same time. HOWEVER, if that is what both of them are saying, that surely explains a lot for me. HAHAHA Help me – I and my ASP (that’s my pet snake, ASP) are rolling on the floor and laughing so hard, we are going to be down here a while.

  • Good eye, nickelndime. I fixed the error. Sorry about that.

  • nickelndime

    Thanks, Steve. NO OPSB DISTRICT – and I do mean NO SCHOOL DISTRICT, can afford to have the both of them “sitting” in the same district at the same time. One of them is destructive enough in any one district. Look at it this way, we have Sarah talking “ugly” and Woody is talking about “knives.” No wonder we can’t accomplish anything significant education wise HAHAHA My ASP (you know, my pet snake ASP), and I have been on the floor laughing our ASPs off, but what makes it even funnier is that neither of the two read past what they wrote and paid any attention to the tagline. These two individuals, and no denying there are a couple of other Usdin’s cohorts who are so enthralled by their own importance that they think most other people value their opinions.

  • nickelndime

    The OPSB did a “pretty.” Yeah, Sarah had to step away from the table, but that’s fine. It was a six vote. The OPSB passed a resolution that says the RSD can’t open NO MO’ SCHOOLS. Well, it’s about time.