In the News – A Student’s Point of View

Monday, September 15, 2014, 11:31 am

A Student’s Point of View

Q&A: One Student’s Educational Saga In New Orleans
NPR reports on high school senior Whitman Wilcox, who attended five schools in nine years, beginning with an elementary school in the 9th Ward, followed by a Catholic school in Houston after Katrina, two New Orleans charters, and ending as a senior at St. Augustine’s. Whitman chooses to focus on the positive side of attending so many schools. “I think I got a benefit because I got to work and socialize with multiple types of people.” Wilcox also says he believes the school system is better now than it was before the storm. “The school in your neighborhood might not be up to par,” he says. “You might need to go a few miles away to get a quality education.”

La. Given Poor Academic Rating

Report pans La. public school performance
According to a report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Louisiana ranks among the lowest in the nation for public school performance. Louisiana received an F for academic achievement, readiness for college and careers, and international competitiveness. The group gave Louisiana a D-plus for the strength of state exams compared to national assessments, a B in teacher preparation, and an A for school choice.

Read More »

In the News – September 4, 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014, 11:13 am

New Orleans Stories

Stop Saying Market-Based Reform. Please.
In the debate over education reform, the RSD represents either the shining star or cautionary tale of so-called market-based reform efforts. Peter Cook says the RSD isn’t really a market-based model: There are high “barriers to entry” for charter school operators; competition doesn’t force low-performing schools out of the marketplace – government intervention does; and there is significant government oversight and collaboration among schools. Cook says characterizing New Orleans’ transformation as “market-based reform” ignores the motivations of those involved. “It may be hard to conceive that folks could be motivated by ideals rather than profit, but in New Orleans that’s the case.”

The End of Neighborhood Schools
This NPR story focuses on the challenges New Orleans schools and families face nine years after Katrina, including a fairly new centralized enrollment system, student transportation in a district without neighborhood schools, and the difficulties of moving schools from a C performance to an A performance. Editor’s note: This analysis of the NPR story from Peter Cook provides interesting insight into how phrasing and the selective omission of pertinent facts can change a reader’s perception of an issue.

Read More »

New Orleans Schools: Then and Now

Friday, August 29, 2014, 9:57 am

In honor of the 9 year anniversary of Katrina, Danielle Dreilinger compiled a snapshot of New Orleans schools then and now.

For those of you who were here before Katrina, it may bring back some interesting memories. For those of you who have moved here since the storm, thanks for being part of the recovery of the city and of our schools.

You can see how far we have come in 9 years … and how far we still have to go.

New Orleans public schools pre-Katrina and now, by the numbers

 

In the News – Immigration Affects N.O. Schools

Tuesday, August 26, 2014, 9:50 am

N.O. Unprepared for Immigrants

New Orleans’ charter school system ill-prepared for jump in Central American immigrants
Public schools in Orleans and Jefferson are facing an unprecedented wave of English-language learners (ELLs), resulting from the rise in immigration from Central American countries, with most students coming from Honduras. This year, an estimated 500 new immigrant students enrolled in New Orleans public schools, a 42% increase over last year’s ELL enrollment. Charter schools with large increases in ELLs are struggling to find Spanish speaking teachers and counselors to meet the needs of these new children and their families.

Measuring Progress

There’s a post-Katrina joie de vivre in New Orleans
The Los Angeles Times looks at the rebirth of New Orleans since Katrina. Signs of this revival include an increase in restaurants (from 809 in 2005 to more than 1,400 today), new music venues and nightclubs, new festivals and the growing success of old favorites, the expansion and renovation of our parks and zoos, and the revitalization of several key neighborhoods.

Read More »

In the News – Judge Rules Against Governor

Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 7:06 pm

Judge Rules Against Jindal on Common Core

Common Core proponents scored a major victory today. A Baton Rouge judge found that Gov. Bobby Jindal caused “irreparable harm” to students and schools when he froze Louisiana’s testing vendor contract. The judge said the governor failed to produce any evidence that the Department of Education violated the law when it signed the contract, and he lifted the Jindal administration’s suspension of the contract. The lawsuit was brought by a group of parents, teachers, charter schools and BESE, who argued that the governor was illegally meddling in Common Core implementation. The governor plans to appeal the ruling, and he stated, “This judge is wrong on the facts and the law. Hopefully, he will reconsider this preliminary ruling at the full trial.”

What does this rulings mean? Superintendent John White says the court’s decision will allow schools to “continue their five-year transition to higher expectations.”

Earlier this week, another judge ruled against 17 Louisiana legislators who claimed the state Department of Education and BESE did not follow the law when adopting Common Core. The judge refused to issue a temporary injunction on Common Core implementation. While the legislators can still file for a permanent injunction, the same judge would hear their request, and his ruling strongly rejected every claim the legislators made.

Read More »

$2 Mil Grant Opportunity for N.O. Charters

Thursday, August 14, 2014, 8:41 am

GRANT OPPORTUNITY FOR CHARTER SCHOOLS
LOCATED IN ORLEANS PARISH AND PARTICIPATING IN ONEAPP*

BREAKTHROUGH SCHOOLS: NEW ORLEANS PERSONALIZED LEARNING
$2 MILLION IN GRANTS AVAILABLE THIS SCHOOL YEAR

Round One Proposals are due September 15, 2014. Winners will be announced in October.

Personalized Learning (PL) seeks to accelerate student learning by tailoring the instructional environment – what, when, how, and where students learn – to address the individual needs, skills, and interests of each student. Students take ownership of their own learning, while also developing deep personal connections to each other, their teachers, and other adults. Between 2014 and 2017, Breakthrough Schools: New Orleans will distribute approximately $6 million to support the robust integration of personalized learning in schools and classrooms in New Orleans.

This year’s funding will entail two rounds:

Round 1

Grant opportunities ranging from $10,000 to $66,000 will be available in Fall 2014 to prepare schools that are interested in further exploration or in whole-school implementation. Grant funding will be issued to schools interested in any of the following:

  • Further EXPLORATION of Personalized Learning;
  • The development and implementation of a yearlong Personalized Learning PILOT; or
  • The creation of a WHOLE-SCHOOL MODEL PL PLAN.

Free technical assistance will be provided to all grantees.

A Request for Proposals has just been released for the exploration, pilot, and planning grants, and can be accessed hereApplications are due September 15, 2014.

Read More »

In the News – Amazing Recovery

Wednesday, August 13, 2014, 8:27 am

New Orleans in the News

Amazing Recovery
The Recovery School District is remarkable for the gains it has made in student and school performance and also for the fact that state and district leaders have been so willing to give up operational power. Government agencies typically mushroom in size, not downsize, but the RSD has allowed academic and budget decisions to be made by school-based leaders.

Great Expectations in New Orleans
The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) conducted a case study of New Orleans schools to determine what lessons could be learned about charter school authorizing. NACSA concluded that New Orleans’ successful authorizing process involves high standards, increased community engagement, and greater accountability. View a quick summary of NACSA’s Lessons Learned.

New Orleans’ Recovery system changes heighten charter school debate, NPR reports
As a new school year begins, NPR’s Claudio Sanchez visited New Orleans schools. He interviewed a school principal, two teachers and the head of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, who discuss the changes they have seen, some of the successes that have come from charters and school choice, and the challenges still faced by New Orleans schools.

Read More »

In the News – BESE is Suing the Governor

Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 8:02 am

Common Core: What’s Happening Now?

Yesterday, BESE voted to challenge Jindal on Common Core by joining a lawsuit filed by several parents and teachers from Orleans, Baton Rouge and Ascension parishes and the Choice Foundation charter group. This lawsuit claims that Jindal has overstepped constitutional boundaries in his fight with BESE over contracts and tests.

The governor responded by filing his own lawsuit against BESE, claiming the Memorandum of Understanding with PARCC (which he signed) is unconstitutional because, “it offends state sovereignty by attempting to improperly delegate the constitutional authority of BESE and the Legislature to a “consortium” of other states.”

Prior to these actions, over the last couple of weeks:

Governor Jindal met with Superintendent John White (nothing came of the meeting), and he rejected BESE’s compromise proposal for student testing through 2016 saying the proposal wasn’t consistent with the state’s procurement code. Lafayette’s The Advertiser called BESE’s proposal a “reasonable solution, offered in good faith.”

Read More »

PAR Common Core Commentary

Thursday, July 17, 2014, 8:19 am

The Public Affairs Research Council released an excellent summary of the pending crisis in student testing and school accountability and the role Governor Bobby Jindal has played in this state-manufactured crisis.

PAR Logo

Leadership and Crisis in Education

In the fight over Common Core, Louisiana state government is
failing its citizens and the governor is chiefly responsible

Louisiana state government is failing its duty to provide leadership and accountability for public school education in the upcoming academic year. The situation has reached a crisis level with serious potential consequences for students, parents, teachers and all of us as stakeholders in the future of Louisiana. This was a crisis of choice and the clearest responsibility for it lies with the governor. 

Read more …

In the News – Summer News Updates

Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 11:04 pm

News on High School Performance

New Orleans high school exam results, graduation rate near state average
Since Katrina, New Orleans has gone from having the worst public schools in the state to performing close to the state average on high school End of Course exams. Eighty-six percent of students passed their tests, and 61% met the higher bar of proficiency. The state averages were 88% passing and 62% proficient. And while New Orleans graduation rate dropped to 72.8%, it was close to the record high state average of 73.5%.

Record-high graduation rate, slight test-score increase reported for Louisiana high schools
Louisiana’s high school students saw gains in three key performance areas: End of Course exams, ACT scores and the 4-year cohort graduation rate.

Latest News on Common Core

After Governor Jindal issued his executive orders and suspended the Department of Education’s contract with its testing vendor to prevent Louisiana’s implementation of Common Core, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) voted to hire outside legal counsel for guidance and a possible lawsuit against the governor.

BESE’s plan could be derailed, however, because they may need the governor’s approval to hire legal counsel. Any state agency, board or commission that hires outside lawyers must get written approval from the attorney general and the governor. In addition, the Jindal administration recently notified Superintendent John White that he could no longer approve contracts for more than $2,000.

Read More »