Voter's Guide, 2020 Fall Elections, New Orleans
NameEthan Ashley

Campaign Information

Campaign Web Site

Bio Information

Party AffiliationDemocrat
ProfessionEducation Non-Profit Executive
Present Employer / positionSchool Board Partners
Length of residence in Jurisdiction
List of educational institutions and degreesHoward University, Bachelors in Political Science
Howard University School of Law, Juris Doctorate
Prior elected and appointed positionsOrleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee Member, District D
Orleans Parish School Board Member, District 2
Civic involvement and affiliationsOrleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee Member, District D
Board President of the Orleans Parish School Board

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? School board oversight and accountability of charter schools are critically important. Our system can not continue to improve without the proper accountability measures and supports in place for our charter schools. These accountability measures allow the District and Charter School operators to be clear on the targets of growth and improvement. While I believe that our current accountability system of our charter schools provides for the proper mechanisms for the use of oversight inclusive of corrective plans when improvements are needed to revocation when schools don't meet our academic standards, I do believe that we can improve our system. I believe that we should be allowed to offer our charter schools more support when they are chronically underperforming rather than simply closing them. This ability can be created under the newly announced Innovation School Zone. Having this ability will offer the District another lever of authority which will result in being able to provide direct support to schools in a shared model of governance in order to help improve the school while also stopping the trauma associated with school closings.
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? The two pandemics we currently face will continue to present significant challenges for the Orleans Parish School Board, and they must be addressed. In addressing COVID-19, our District will need to implement a flexible emergency plan inclusive of health and safety policies, technology protocols, school accountability modifications and increased communications. In addressing our systemic racism, our District will need to adequately evaluate, plan and implement racial equity policies and training. Beyond our pandemics, we must provide families with more diverse high-quality school options in their neighborhoods; increase our strategic partnerships to offer our students and families greater wrap around support; and start to lead efforts to expand early childhood opportunities in our District.

As a cancer survivor that contracted the COVID-19 virus this Spring, I know the importance of protecting our students and teachers. The board has worked and will continue to work closely with health care officials to prepare options for how and when to safely open schools, considering everything from transportation to food service.

As a parent with a child in our public schools, I also know we must maintain high academic standards and accountability to erase the educational inequities of racism. Our children deserve no less.

Addressing these challenges will require thoughtful, innovative and experienced leadership committed to partnering with our community. The kind of leadership I have and will continue to provide if allowed to serve again on the school board.
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? To my knowledge, the Charter School Accountability Framework (CSAF) does not judge the performance of teachers but rather the performance of students on standardized tests as well as the schools finances and operations. This is largely because the CSAF is used to judge the performance of the charter organization and not individual teachers. I certainly believe that teachers should be provided input on matters dealing specific to their performance, especially if pay or matters of their specific employment is impacted.
4. What approaches will you implement to ensure that the needs of special education students are fully met? As a current board member and candidate, I will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the needs of special education students are fully met. As a District, we are under a federal consent decree to provide proper special education services to students. I have had the opportunity to support equitable funding allocations by amending our current funding formula (differentiated funding) to provide more resources to students with special needs. I have supported the use of our non-compliance measures in our CSAF for charter schools who are not providing proper SPED services to our students. I have supported our School Support and Improvement office providing District wide professional development training for school and I would continue to support these efforts as we continue to see that the national trend of teacher attrition impacts us locally. Additionally, I would support the creation of a parent, student, advocacy organization, and practitioner/teacher working group to help hear directly from parents, students, and teachers impacted and trying to solve the service gap issue. Lastly, I would continue to support the training and hiring of qualified SPED teachers through our investment in teacher preparation programs like Xavier, Relay, etc. I know that our hard working educators are making progress, but we must continue to hold our schools accountable and provide them with the proper resources to service the SPED needs of our students.
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? First, I strongly believe that what happened to those students is wrong and unacceptable. In order to ensure that these issues do not happen again, the District should audit all high schools (within the LEA or not) annually. Beyond the audits, the School District must provide professional development training to all schools (within the LEA or not) annually about graduation requirements as well as provide a community of practice for our high school counselors to hear and learn from one another. At the very least, the District should be able to mitigate negligence or lack of knowledge. The audits should allow the school district to be able to catch any mistakes and correct them for students.