Voter's Guide, 2020 Fall Elections, New Orleans
NameKayonna K. Armstrong

Campaign Information

Campaign Web Site

Bio Information

Party AffiliationDemocrat
ProfessionFormer Educator and Parent Advocate
Present Employer / positionLyft/Uber Driver
Length of residence in Jurisdiction15 years
List of educational institutions and degreesSouthern University and A&M College, Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice 2011
Southern University and A&M College, Masters of Arts in Political Science 2014
Southern University and A&M College, Masters in Public Administration (currently enrolled)
Prior elected and appointed positionsNone
Civic involvement and affiliationsNew Orleans Gospel Soul Children
Order of Eastern Star, Queen of Sheba #7 (Treasurer)
New Orleans Coalition
Independent Women Organization
Louisiana Federation of Democratic Women

Questions specific to the position

1. Describe your view about school board oversight of charter schools. What changes do you believe are needed to improve performance? Local school boards are reasonably supposed to sufficiently establish charter school performance goals with each charter school's board. They are supposed to hold schools accountable through locally designed performance frameworks. Unfortunately, that is not the case and has not been for quite some considerable time. I passionately believe that oversight of schools should be of the local school board, not through independent organizations and not through BESE. Take the autonomy away from the superintendent and placing it back inside of the schools where teachers, parents, and students can have input on what are the best methods/practices to better educate our children. I believe the way to improve performance is through a needs assessment and implementing that assessment to provide resources for what is best needed and remove the idea of a 'one-size-fits-all' mentality in curriculum, assessments, and improvement plans.

2. What is your vision and three top priorities for NOLA-PS for the next five years? What obstacles do you foresee and what steps will you implement to overcome them? My vision for New Orleans Public schools is for our schools to be returned to the leadership and oversight of Orleans Parish School Boards. Our children and the education system should not be treated as a marketing tool. The needs of our community should always be a priority. I want to see the sense of school pride and tradition of our New Orleans culture return to our schools. How can we expect our children to have pride in their schools and be proud of where they come from if it is not being taught inside of the classrooms? How can we expect our children to be engaged in classrooms if they can not see themselves inside of a book because of the lack of cultural relevance? I want to see children attending schools in their neighborhoods and reduce excessive spending on school buses. I want to implement the importance of Music and Performing Arts inside of schools. We live in a city where music and art are very significant and culturally invested. Data has shown that students who learn how to read music or be involved in creative arts have shown an increase in their academic performance. To see schools returned to a traditional public school system, where the autonomy lies within parents, teachers, and students; where teachers and students can be as creative as they would like to be inside of the classrooms; where inclusion is implemented inside the classrooms. My top three priorities are:

1) Return local governance of schools to the school board
2) Abolish the Charter Law
3) Repeal Act 91

The obstacles that I foresee with those three priorities are a lot of backlash and negative intonation in which I will overcome these obstacles with persistence, faith, and standing firm on these priorities and the effect it will have on children and families of District 7 and beyond.
3. In the Accountability Framework, there is no indication of any input from faculty members. What are your thoughts about giving teachers more input to decide how their performance is judged? Teachers are prominent factors in providing the foundation of students' success. The discussion of evaluations/performance, salaries, benefits, and effective policies surrounding the curriculum, professional development, etc. should be more of teachers and local school boards' input than that of the state, government, or independent charter organizations.
4. What approaches will you implement to ensure that the needs of special education students are fully met? I will embrace the moral philosophy of 'inclusion' and shift paradigms when determining how best to meet the needs of students with disabilities. To move forward, there needs to efficiently be a starting point. Empirical data carefully collected will serve as an intentional baseline on which to measure success during the academic school year. I must look into what has already been implemented within the schools and partner up with families and teachers to come up with a plan of action of change. Setting goals and timelines on how to effectively complete those set goals will assist in approving. Also, to cultivate consistency, involve needs assessments, and develop a student-center mindset.
5. Last year some students were unable to graduate because of improper management of graduation requirements by school administrators. Do you think these issues could happen again and, if so, what steps would you like to see implemented to prevent this? Yes, I do believe these issues can happen again, and what I would like to see implemented is some checks and balances between the school, the superintendent and the school board's accountability committee. To ensure students who are entering 8th or 9th grade are receiving the requirements needed to graduate from high school. Have students meet with their school counselors and be given a graduation checklist with all that is required for students to graduate. Meet with teachers, parents, and students to ensure that everyone is aware of what is needed for students to graduate. Implement policies that protect teachers if they report any improper management of graduation requirements by school administrators. Request an audit each quarter to ensure that teachers and administrators are on task with those requirements. And to ensure open communication between parents, teachers, and students of any changes that may occur and to create a plan of action if a student does not meet the proper requirements to graduate.