The Continued Push for School Excellence

January is the time for new beginnings! January of this year (2018) also marks the start of my second year on the Orleans Parish School Board representing District 2. My first year on the School Board was what I would characterize as a “learning” year. I learned from my fellow School Board members, the Superintendent and district staff, charter board members and school leaders, community organizations, and most importantly from our students and community members of District 2. I learned that change happens with vision, faith, and will, hope is both a gift and tool that can inspire people to dream bigger for our children and improving our school system will take all of these things and more. Finally, I learned to listen more intently, include a multitude of voices when making decisions, and anticipate problems and offer more solutions.

During my learning’s in 2017, the School Board took some incredible steps toward moving our education system forward for our children. We were able to craft a vision statement and goals for the Orleans Parish School Board, which will provide our District with guidance on how to improve our education system for our children.  We renewed our Superintendent’s contract to stabilize our District with great leadership. We authorized the creation and expansion of several schools to meet the needs of our students. We updated and unified the contract for our Charter Schools in order to strengthen school accountability and create a common contract for all Charter Schools. We called for a transportation study to ensure that we are offering efficient and effective busing for our children. We also passed a balanced budget and ended the year with a healthy size fund balance. More specifically for District 2, I created a District 2 Newsletter to keep you all updated on my efforts for our children. I created and administered a District 2 Legacy Scholarship to provide college funds for a recent public high school graduate. Last, I developed the District 2 Education Community Council to engage and learn from the community on education matters.

As I reflect on 2017, I am clear that we have learned and accomplished a great deal for our students. I also know that in 2018, we will need to build on our momentum. 2018 will be a year of “Change, Stabilization, and Collaboration.”  In 2018, we will unify our school district by bringing all schools under the control of the Orleans Parish School Board (July 1, 2018). We will learn from our transportation study and recommend policy changes. We will create a strategic plan to improve the outcomes for our students including their reading and math comprehension. We will also expand early childhood options for our children. For District 2, I will continue the District 2 Legacy Scholarship for recent graduates of public high school students attending college. I will coordinate and host a District 2 School Supply Give Away for our students. Last, our District 2 Education Community Council will work tirelessly this year with me to help improve student outcomes in our District.

This list is not exclusive of all the things we must accomplish this year, but it is the start needed to spark the change we seek for our system to meet the needs of our children. I am clear that we must work collaboratively to both change and stabilize our school system. It will take each of us putting aside our fears, predisposed ideas, and ego; to dream, commit to and have faith in our unified school system, that is equitable and responsive in policy and practice to the needs of our children and their families.

As always, I thank each of you for the opportunity to serve and I look forward to working collaboratively this year as we change and stabilize our school district. 

For the betterment of our children,

Ethan Ashley

Orleans Parish School Board Member, District 2