CHASE(ING) a Direct Run:

The significance of the historic vote to transition Lafayette Academy to a direct-run school cannot be understated. For too long, the privatization of schools has been forced onto New Orleans families. This is despite pushback from the community members whose children are most impacted by this system. Access to a free and appropriate public education is a federally protected right. It is also a quality-of-life issue. As such, families should have the right to enroll their children in a school of their choice. And the system must include district-run neighborhood schools.

The vote is significant because it affords parents an added layer of school choice. Advocates of traditional public schools are hopeful that the February 26, 2024, NOLA-PS vote to direct run Lafayette Academy is a catalyst to help bridge the divide between public school advocates and charter management operators. This action simultaneously restores the constitutional duties of our local elected school board. 

Related: Charter Schools are the Gentrification of Education

There are several advantages  to district-run schools: 

  1. A centralized, elected governing body to address parental and public concerns. 
  2. Less money for transporting kids around the city
  3. No charter administration salaries.
  4. More money to pay teachers.
  5. More money for needed classroom resources and supplies; and 
  6. Increased transparency, accountability, and oversight. 

Moreover, this move aligns the district with the Constitution of the State of Louisiana.  The goal of public education is to provide learning environments and experiences, at all stages of human development. Every individual deserves and equal opportunity to develop to their full potential. Therefore our schools must be excellent. This  ensures that schools are meeting the holistic  needs of every student. 

Neighborhood schools are integral to the cultural fabric of New Orleans. Furthermore, neighborhood schools are also communal vessels for generations of families to create legacies within the walls of our beloved institutions. Proponents of “school choice” should champion this historic vote which restores power to the people with a district-run school. Opposing families having the option of attending a district-run school runs afoul of a bedrock principle of this country—taxation without representation. This is anti-American, anti-democratic and anti-families. 

A traditional public school under the governance of the people via its elected officials ensures transparency and authentic community partnerships. These partnerships guarantee district level oversight and a more robust accountability framework.

Listen, an all-charter school model that subverts the long-standing principle of taxation without representation is no longer the norm in Orleans Parish. Thus, let’s continue to push for direct-run schools and make Leah Chase the model of progress for the community and children that we love.

I Love Y’all  In Real Life,

Ashonta Lashonda Wyatt, Ed.D

4 thoughts on “The Historic Vote to Board Operate a Local School”
  1. I write to thank Guest Columnist, Dr. Ashanti Wyatt, and THINK 504 for a very important story about Leah Chase School, the new direct-run school that can become “the model of progress for the community and children that we love”.
    August 2024 will make 19 years since the State Department of Education and the Orleans Parish School Board supported “Act 35”, a state law that transferred over 100 New Orleans Public Schools to a so-called “Recovery School District (RSD)”. The takeover law went into effect November 30, 2005 when Orleans Parish residents were under a Hurricane Katrina mandatory evacuation order.
    Act 35 was a Jim Crow 2.0 law that “redefined a failing school”. At the beginning of the 2005-2006 School Year, Orleans Parish had 5 or 6 “failing schools” based on School Performance Scores (SPS). A “statistical trick” and Jim Crow sleight off hand resulted in a new minimum SPS of 77.5 instead of 60. (Note: I am writing these comments on my cellphone and I need to double check the “60 SPS). The point is there were only 5 or 6 “failing schools” before Hurricane Katrina struck and over 100 “failing schools” after “Act 35”! Jim Crow smiled — Jim Crow 2.0 was in full force and effect !
    Fast forward—- The Recovery School District was a documented disaster— with most of its schools graded “D” or “F” for ten years . The RSD never recovered! It transferred all NOLA public schools to dozens of Charter School Operators— while the Orleans Parish School Board — elected by voters, had no direct-run schools. The “Charter School Miracle” in New Orleans was promoted by the local and national media, and new power brokers who controlled billions of dollars dedicated to public schools.
    Under Article VIll of the Louisiana Constitution, every parish shall have a local school board and all school boards in Louisiana have direct-run schools, hires own employees and answers to the parents and voters for the success or failure of public schools. Orleans Parish is an exception and “The Experiment” has failed. If adults truly care about our children—- we need to demand high performing schools for every child in every neighborhood!
    Dr. Wyatt’s Guest Column should be the beginning of a year-long community dialogue about direct-run schools— as we near the 20th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the state takeover of 100 local schools, and the mass firing of 7500 public school employees.
    Finally, I publicly commend Senator Joe Bouie for his knowledgeable and continuous fight for the return of NOLA public schools to local control. If we don’t stay in the fight, we can never win ! Justice has no deadline!
    The real story is in my book, TEACHERS OF THE STORM, published by Amazon.
    Attorney Willie M. Zanders

  2. I am a regular reader of your columns that contimue to reflect the concerns and values of our community. Please know that I am with you.
    I am also in need of your help. I am the Director of a character building children’s group called the Westbank Rangers Pathfinder Club . We are located in Algiers and we offer children ages 9- 16 character development skills, learning modules, we promote reading, pratical survival skills and apppreciation for nature throuh field trips and outdoor camping. .
    We are scheduled to attend and participate in an International Camping experience August 5- 11, 2-24 at Gillette, Wyoming. We need you help by putting this out through your media page that we are in need of at least $20,000.00 for transportation and new tents. Efforts to raise this amount is ongoing, however we can use some additional help and/ or sponsorship.
    You may reach me at (504) or
    Additional information about this camping experience can be found at
    Thank your attention in this matter.
    Irene H. Williams, MSW, Director Westbank Rangers Pathfinder Club
    Gen. Meyer Avenue
    New Orleans, LA. 70114

  3. Thank you Dr. Wyaat and Jeff. We need to get all the schools back under local control. These are our kids

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