Defending the Status Quo or Protecting Community Interests? Brenda Mitchell and the United Teachers of New Orleans


  • Emma Meyer


On August 29th, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans, Louisiana. The storm devastated the city, leaving the education system in total disrepair. As the city started to rebuild, different groups debated the best way to revive the previously failing public school system. The Louisiana state government, federal government, and Orleans Parish School Board advocated for a complete overhaul of the New Orleans public school system to an all-charter system. At the same time, Brenda Mitchell, president of the United Teachers of New Orleans, defended her union of educators and staff members in the wake of the storm. With education reforms imminent and few supporting her, Mitchell represented the union amidst calls for drastic
changes to the school system that could largely eliminate UTNO’s influence. Ultimately, Mitchell had to decide between fighting to preserve a system that historically benefitted her organization or adapting her organization’s mission to comply with demands for change.


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