In an unprecedented move, the North Shore Business Council is diving into November. 8th Street last week elected the Tammany Parish school board, hired political advisers and sent an email to longtime voters showing the district’s plummeting performance rankings and listing candidates who said they would support the business group’s efforts to improve school menus.
“There was a time when the St. Tammany School stood out in every school district in Louisiana. But not anymore,” the front of the mail said, noting that the district’s performance score went from No. 4 in 2010 to No. 4 in 2010. 18, 2019.
“Our job is to solve the problem,” the postman said.
not just complain
The group’s lawyer and chairman, Ross Lagarde, admitted that taking on such a role at the election was a first for an influential group of chief executives and executives from more than 60 North Shore companies. But he predicts it won’t be the last, he said.
“The business council needs to step up and actively try to correct the problem because we should be the business leaders of the parish,” Lagarde said on Friday. “In addition to complaining, we have to do something. If we want to change, we have to do something.”
The committee isn’t the first business group to turn to the ballot box to address education issues. In 2010, business leaders in Jefferson Parish fielded a group of candidates — and had them elected, though four years later the teachers’ union was able to turn things around.
Lagarde said the North Shore Business Council knew the history and why their counterparts in Jefferson Parish acted.
“We decided we needed to do the same,” he said, although the North Shore Business Council did not field or support any candidates at the election.
The mailer also pointed out that St. Petersburg has a 45% parish tax. Tammany attended public schools, making the area one of the most well-funded in the state. “But today our scores and schools are behind,” it said.
The Mail tracks research on St. Louis schools. Commission commissioned by the Southeastern Louisiana University Center for Business Studies commissioned by the Diocese of Tammany, Tangi Paho, and Washington.
The study was sent to all school board candidates in St. Louis. Tammany, and asked them to commit to supporting a range of goals to improve educational outcomes. These include improving literacy rates and recovering from learning losses, increasing accountability and transparency of financial and educational outcomes, upgrading facilities and promoting parental choice and choice — perhaps the most controversial issue on the list.
Candidates don’t have to agree to every target listed, but the council is seeking to agree with the vast majority of them, he said.
Of the 36 candidates vying for 12 vacancies on the 15 school boards, only 15 were listed as pledges of support in the mail. In the three games in Divisions 4, 5 and 8, no one participated. There is only one race, District 2, where all candidates are on the support list.
While the North Shore Business Council has raised its profile, St. Chamber of Commerce executive director Lacey Osborne said the Tammany Chamber PAC decided not to endorse when nearly 40 candidates were qualified.
But the chamber did post a series of candidate interviews on YouTube, which she said gained traffic.
new blood is coming
The chamber also signed on to support accountability reforms at the state level following this week’s Chamber of Commerce board meeting. In an email to members, Osborne cited a statement from the Louisiana Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which said that despite the state’s low overall rankings for educational outcomes, current accountability obscures most high schools from being Mark the failure of A or B schools.
“The school board has been out of our sights because we’ve done so well and been rated third or fourth. Now, we’re not,” Osborne said. “New blood is coming in and we need to build relationships with some of the new school board members and communicate the importance of workforce development.”
Lagarde agreed and said St. Tammany School director Frank Jabia did not shy away from the issue in his discussions with the Business Council.
“People move here because historically we have one of the best public school systems, so they leave the surrounding areas and move here, and now, we’re slipping,” Lagarde said.