Kanye West, Hillary Clinton, Raul Castro — and Kira Orange Jones.
Time magazine is out with its annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people, and among them is the young Teach for America leader who represents most of New Orleans on Louisiana’s state school board.
Orange Jones is a deeply controversial figure in the local education circles. She runs a group often viewed as either the scourge or savior of high-poverty public school systems across the country.
And in 2011, she ousted local attorney Louella Givens from the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education after a divisive election. Givens was the board’s most vocal skeptic of the charter school movement that has taken over public education in New Orleans; Orange Jones has been one of its champions.
In a blurb for Time, New Orleans native Walter Isaacson, a former Time magazine editor and bestselling author, makes a case that public education is much improved in his hometown and that Orange Jones deserves some of the credit.
“As Teach for America’s executive director in New Orleans, she attracted educators from across the U.S. and developed ways for reformers, community members and veteran teachers to respect and learn from one another,” Isaacson writes.
While Orange Jones certainly finds herself in exalted company, it is in some respects unsurprising to see her highlighted in a national magazine.
With the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaching, national media outlets have begun to train a spotlight on the state takeover of schools that followed the storm.