Outside Cash Floods New Orleans Board Race
In New Orleans, where 80 percent of students attend charter schools that are not overseen by an elected board, the race for a local school board seat has become the latest battleground over how to govern public schools in a city whose education landscape has been radically transformed in the seven years since Hurricane Katrina struck.
The campaign for District 3 of the Orleans Parish school board—a panel that directly operates just six traditional public schools and oversees 12 charter schools—features local lawyer Brett Bonin , a one-term incumbent who is running for re-election against two challengers, Sarah Newell Usdin , one of the city's most visible charter school supporters, and Karran Harper Royal , a public school parent and long time advocate for students in special education.
Though five other school board seats are also up for grabs on Nov. 6, the contest in District 3 stands out for the more than $110,000 in campaign funds that Ms. Usdin has raised so far from her supporters—some of them education activists from out of state who favor market-based reforms. Her contributors include former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and Boykin Curry, a New York City hedge-fund manager and founder of two charter schools in that city. Fundraising on behalf of Ms. Usdin—the founder of New Schools for New Orleans, a nonprofit created after the storm to launch new charter schools in the city—dwarfs that of Mr. Bonin, who has raised more than $24,000 so far, and Ms. Harper Royal, who reported roughly $5,500 in campaign cash as of the...
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