Orleans Parish School Board candidates arrived at an Alliance for Good Government forum last week looking for endorsements as they seek a role in shaping the future of the city's public schools.
As New Orleans struggles with below-average test scores, high dropout rates and crime committed by young people who see no other future for themselves, audience members might have expected teachers unions, collective bargaining or the length of the school year to come up for discussion.
None of them did.
Also absent: almost any mention of teacher evaluations, tenure or pay. None of the issues that just convulsed Chicago public schools during a teachers strike, or that regularly spark lively debate in neighboring Jefferson Parish and the state Capitol in Baton Rouge, made much of an appearance at all.
When it comes to debate on public education, at least as it plays out among those vying for a direct hand in how schools are governed, New Orleans can seem to be on a planet of its own.