Kira Orange-Jones running for BESE reelection

Published 12:03 am Saturday, September 5, 2015

LAPLACE — Kira Orange-Jones announced her candidacy for re-election to the District 2 seat on Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Kira Orange-Jones

Kira Orange-Jones

As someone who experienced first hand how education can change lives — having gone from an inner-city school to a master’s degree from Harvard and a career as an educator, to most recently being featured in Time Magazine — on BESE, Orange-Jones has focused on increasing achievement for all students.

“I know the challenges and heartbreaking statistics for students of color trying to compete on an educational playing field that is not level,” Jones said.

“For our children and our society, we must provide an opportunity for an excellent education to every child. That has been and will continue to be my life’s mission.”

Orange-Jones pointed to Advanced Placement as a prime example. Louisiana led the nation in the percentage increase of students earning AP college credit, and the percent of the state’s black students attaining qualifying high scores increased by 89 percent.

Other statewide achievements listed include improved graduation rates, more students eligible for TOPS scholarships and a decrease in the number of student suspensions and expulsions.

In New Orleans, historically one of the lowest performing districts, failing schools have dramatically decreased from 117 in 2004 to eight in 2014 and graduation rates have increased by 25 percent from 2008 to 2014, with the city’s black male graduation rate now exceeding state and national averages.

As a former teacher and now a Teach For America executive director, Orange-Jones is quick to give credit where she thinks it belongs.

“On BESE we set educational policy,” she said. “It is the dedicated teachers and principals that are in the schools and classrooms every day that implement these policies and deserve the thanks of everyone in this State. I see my job on BESE as supporting front line educators so our children can achieve their full potential.”

Orange-Jones earned a Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in education from Harvard. She started with Teach for America as a fourth grade teacher in Baton Rouge. BESE District 2 includes the east and west banks of New Orleans, the West Bank of Jefferson, and St. Charles, St. John, St. James and Assumption parishes.

The primary will be Oct. 24.