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  • Ms. Bowles

Confession: I've been holding out. Nola, this one is for you!

Updated: Sep 10, 2019

Summer break is officially over, and Clayton County scholars will finish their second week of school today. Can you believe it? The kid you love is already in the NEXT grade. Here’s one of my favorite pictures from my school visits last week.

Can’t you feel the love those teachers put into what must’ve been hours of sketching, tracing, painting, and perfect hanging? Our scholars are lucky to have them; that’s the kind of love they deserve. I see you River's Edge Elementary.

 

Oh.


How’d I spend my summer? Omg. So sweet of you to ask!


I spent most of my summer learning best practices by attending conferences and expanding our network. Lowkey, I’ve been holding out. That's rude, I'm sorry, and now that I'm back I cannot WAIT to tell you all about it.


I’ll update you about some of my experiences over the next few weeks. But let me be honest. Mostly, I'm just excited to tell you about some amazing people! I look forward to sharing some incredible stories, and introducing you to some of my new (and old) odd-defying friends! Policy makers, authors, entrepreneurs, side-hustlers, & game-changers! If we don’t tell our stories, who will? How will we know what’s possible without a little proof?



 

So here we go. First, let me tell you about my friend Ethan Ashley.

Nola, this one is for you!


Currently, Ethan Ashley serves on the New Orleans Parish School Board and right now, he needs our help because he’s running for the Louisiana House of Representatives! In addition to my appreciation for brave leadership & storytelling, New Orleans is my second home and I’ll always care about what’s happening to our people there! I’m excited because this is kinda my first boldly unapologetic endorsement. (Besides #Slacey 💙).


Plus, all states matter; this is transferable knowledge. Ubuntu.

 

I first met Ethan when I was a teacher, board member (at a different school), and fellow for the Black Alliance for Educational Options. A mere ten years after Katrina, it was still an “interesting” time for scholars, teachers, and residents. Throughout the school closures, school openings, leadership transitions, and inevitable growing pains, Ethan was there as a servant leader & former Director of Community Engagement at the Urban League of Greater New Orleans.

 

Shortly after I returned home and founded PROOF, our leadership team traveled from Atlanta to New Orleans for our first winter retreat.

When we needed space to meet, work, and dive in, Ethan opened the doors at the Urban League and warmly hosted our whole group! PROOF made magic in that space, and we’ll forever be grateful.


As an OPSB member, Ethan helped hire a new superintendent and re-localize control by transitioning charter LEAs back under one single administrative body for enhanced oversight and accountability. Throughout his time on the school board, Ethan shares knowledge, resources, and continues to support school board members like me around the country. Our network of trailblazing leaders leans-on and learns-from each other.


One of the many things we discuss, is that our local-school board practices are heavily impacted by policies that come from the state. Your school board members are powerful, but limited. It's up to our state legislators to make good decisions for kids about funding formulas, appropriations, accountability, oversight, access to pre-k, certifications, early-college, and more.

 

As a former Public Policy Fellow for the Louisiana Department of Education’s Office of Public Policy and Government Affairs, I had the privilege to learn from some of our nation’s most innovative ed-policy & reform experts... and LOVED it. Regardless of your opinion on the "legislative process," systemic change, charter schools, or other LA DOE happenings, it was an honor to learn in place that is open-minded, unafraid to innovate, and try new things. What made it special was the understanding that “if we do what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we always got”… and… “nothing changes if nothing changes.” Yup. You’ll win some and lose some, but those mindsets are fundamental requisites for reform. Throughout the legislative session, I saw and learned SO much about leadership, advocacy, policy, and relationships.


No system is perfect, but every system is only as good as its people. Louisiana, like Georgia, is a really red state. New Orleans, like Atlanta, is a really blue dot IN a red state. How else can I say it? Louisiana needs Ethan's energy in the State House for District 97!


Other “wows,” “wtfs,” and “you go boys”:

  • Ethan attended college at 16 and graduated from Howard University in Washington D.C. with a B.S. in Political Science and J.D. at the age of 22.

  • Ethan is the youngest elected official in New Orleans as the District 2 Representative on the Orleans Parish School Board.

  • Currently, Ethan works as the Director Of State and Local Advocacy at the Anti-Defamation League.

  • Ethan is a husband-to-be, parent, member of Kappa Alpha Psi, cancer survivor, and attends Franklin Avenue Baptist Church.

  • Read Ethan’s latest message here.

No matter where you live, you can support our friend Ethan for the Louisiana House of Representatives in District 97 by making a contribution at electethanashley.com. If you live in New Orleans, sign up to volunteer here and VOTE in the primary on October 12th! The incumbent, Dr. Joe Bouie, is not running, leaving an open seat and five candidates on the ballot. Those are big shoes to fill and no one is more qualified than Ethan; donate & share today.


I'll see you soon to help knock on doors.


Primaries matter, #ClayCo knows. We're proof. 😉


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