TFA Exec Kira Orange-Jones As TIME “100 Most Influential” Material?
For some reason, TIME magazine has decided that Teach for America (TFA) Louisiana executive director Kira Orange-Jones is one of the most influential people in 2015.
I have been in the room with Orange-Jones at meetings of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). Orange-Jones was elected to BESE in November 2011.
I have not heard her engage in any sustained or meaningful discussion on any subject. I have witnessed her consistently vote along with the majority of the BESE board.
I thought maybe I missed Orange-Jones’ meaningful discussion at BESE meetings, so I asked a colleague who attends the meetings regularly, retired teacher and BESE-2016 hopeful Lee Barrios, whether Orange-Jones engages in discussion at BESE meetings.
Barrios’ response: “Rarely.”
So, that TIME recognition for Orange-Jones “influence” is apparently not based on her involvement as evidenced in state board meetings.
But Orange-Jones was also appointed TFA executive director for the Greater New Orleans region in 2007, and she became TFA Louisiana executive director in 2013. So, maybe her renown comes from that her influence in that role. After all, according to the TFA page for Greater New Orleans and the Louisiana delta, TFA now boasts a total corps size of 340 recruits statewide and an “alumni base” of over 600.
A TFAer corps size of 340 might impress some, but is it enough to earn the title of being among the “100 most influential people?”
Not if one considers that TFA Chicago has almost as many coming in this year (310) as part of a total corps size of 600, and TFA New York notes a total corps size of 740 and 4,200 area alumni.
So, it can’t be the overwhelming number of TFAers that Orange-Jones is recruiting that makes her so “influential.”
How about the idyllic spiel that TFA’s emeritus leader, Walter Isaacson, writes about New Orleans’ post-Katrina charter-converted educational environment? Is Orange-Jones top-100 “influence” here? Let’s have a gander:
This year is the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and among the amazing aspects of the comeback of New Orleans is the reinvention of its school system. After an influx of charter nonprofits, the distinction between charter and public schools was virtually eliminated: all are empowered to run themselves and compete for students. Kira Orange Jones, a Bronx native, was one of the critical engines of innovation. As Teach for America’s executive director in New Orleans, she attracted educators from across the U.S. and developed ways for reformers, community members and veteran teachers to respect and learn from one another. To preserve the reforms, she ran for Louisiana’s board of education and upset an entrenched incumbent. The public-charter-choice model has been a success: since 2005, the on-time graduation rate has gone from over 50% to nearly 75%, the number going to college has more than doubled, and New Orleans now outperforms cities like Chicago, Denver and Miami on ACT tests. [Emphasis added.]
Allow me to note that Isaacson’s underdog portrait of Orange-Jones’ run for BESE fails to note the TFA-charter-voucher, billionaire Walton cash, and more:
Last fall (in 2011), a coterie of extremely wealthy billionaires, among them New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, turned the races for unpaid positions on the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) into some of the most expensive in the state’s history. Seven pro-education “reform” candidates for the BESE outraised eight candidatesTFA Exec Kira Orange-Jones As TIME “100 Most Influential” Material? | deutsch29: