In the News: A Clipping Service – April 16, 2012

In this edition of In the News:

  • Louisiana Makes National Headlines
  • Charters in the News
  • A Question of Discrimination
  • More on Louisiana Education Reforms
  • Local Stories

Louisiana Makes National Headlines

La. School Choice Options Expand After Sweeping Education Overhaul
Education Week – April 13, 2012
Education Week examines Louisiana’s education reform legislation and calls it “one of the most exhaustive education overhauls of any state in the country.” The magazine looks at the implications of the new laws and how these reforms compare to efforts made by other states.

School Vouchers Gain Ground
Wall Street Journal – April 11, 2012
According to the Wall Street Journal, Louisiana’s recent reform legislation will establish the nation’s most expansive system of school choice, creating one of the largest voucher programs in the country and giving many parents control over the use of tax dollars to educate their children.

Voucher Accountability in the Pelican State
Education Gadfly – April 12, 2012
When Louisiana lawmakers approved the statewide voucher program, they also ordered the Department of Education to create a system that holds participating schools accountable for the performance of their voucher students. The Education Gadfly recommends Louisiana consider a sliding scale of accountability where the level of accountability is directly related to the number of voucher students in a school. One percent voucher students equals minimal accountability. Ninety percent voucher students means they get treated like any public school.

Charters in the News

Understanding School Shoppers in Detroit
Education Gadfly – April 12, 2012
A new study examines the school-choice shopping behavior of Detroit families. The study looks at when and why parents go out and shop for non-neighborhood schools, how shoppers decide what school to choose, and why some parents prefer to stick with their neighborhood school. The study also offers some recruiting suggestions for school leaders who want to expand enrollment.

Learning from Charter School Management Organizations: Strategies for Student Behavior and Teacher Coaching
Education Gadfly – April 5, 2012
This national study looks at common practices of high-performing Charter Management Organizations. The study found that the strategies most strongly linked to higher student achievement are 1) consistently applied school-wide behavior programs (outlining clear rewards and demerits for actions, holding “zero tolerance” for violence, and promoting a strong culture of learning) and 2) regular teacher coaching. Strategies that did not improve student performance include boosting instructional time, adopting performance-based teacher evaluation and pay, and using formative-assessment data frequently.

In D.C. Schools, 59 Percent of Students Get Diploma on Time
Washington Post – April 5, 2012
Less than 60% of D.C. high school students graduated on time in 2011. Charter schools in D.C. had a much higher graduation rate than their traditional schools – 80% vs. 53%.

A Question of Discrimination

Senate Bill 217, authored by Sen. Carl Crowe, has created a lot of controversy. The bill says that anyone who gets a contract with the state cannot discriminate based on “race, religion, national ancestry, age, sex or disability” in choosing whom to hire or to whom they provide services. But the bill also says state agencies cannot go beyond these categories when drawing up public contracts.

Charter Schools Worry that Louisiana Senate Bill Hints at Discrimination
Times-Picayune – April 6, 2012
Since charter schools operate under a contract with the state, some are asking, “If the bill passes, could a charter school expel or penalize a student for being gay or not speaking English well enough?” The issue has generated a flurry of editorials, including ones by Stephanie GraceJarvis DeBerry, and the Baton Rouge Advocate.

In addition, the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools issued a statement saying SB 217 would not affect charter law. Sen. Crowe wrote a letter saying the bill is not discriminatory or directed at schools, and Stephanie Grace weighed in again on what she calls Sen. Crowe’s revisionist history.

More on Louisiana Education Reforms

Evaluations of Teachers to be Revised
The Advocate – April 12, 2012
The Department of Education announced they will modify plans for how public school teachers are evaluated, lessening the pressure on principals to single-handedly evaluate every teacher in the school. Under the new plan, deans, department chairmen and other supervisors will be allowed to assist principals in rating teachers and setting targets for student improvement. In addition, school districts will be allowed to designate evaluation teams to help principals with the observation part of the teacher evaluation.

Term Limit Push for Louisiana School Boards Gaining Traction
Times-Picayune – April 4, 2012
The House voted 60-36 in favor of Rep. Steve Pugh’s bill that requires school districts to allow voters to decide on November 6 whether to impose term limits on school board members. The referendums would limit board members to three four-year terms, the same limits imposed on state legislators.

Legislature Gives Final Approval to Package of Bills to Remake Education in Louisiana
Times-Picayune – April 5, 2012
Two new bills approved by the Legislature will result in big changes for Louisiana education: they will curtail teacher tenure protection; tie instructors’ compensation and superintendents’ job security to student performance; shift hiring and firing power from school boards to superintendents; create new paths to open charter schools; and establish a statewide voucher program.

Louisiana’s Education Reform is a Dramatic Plan for Schools and Our Children: An Editorial
Times-Picayune – April 8, 2012
In this editorial, the Times-Picayune says Governor Jindal’s reforms offer real promise, but they also say it is now vital for the Department of Education to establish high standards for new charter authorizers and strong accountability measures for schools that take voucher students.

Education Bills Head to Jindal After House Approval
The Advocate – April 6, 2012
Despite criticism from many educators, the Legislature has approved two key education bills, HB 976 and HB 974. Under HB 976, current teachers rated as “ineffective” will lose tenure immediately and could face dismissal proceedings, while new teachers will have to be rated as “highly effective” for five out of six years to become tenured.

Top Private School Leader on Jindal Plan: No ‘Governmental Interference in Our School’
Times-Picayune – April 3, 2012
In a letter to the parents of Christian Life Academy, the founder and the headmaster of the school say they will not participate in any state-financed tuition voucher program if it includes mandated testing or other imposed regulations. They also say they are concerned about “an influx of students that would require the ‘watering down’ of our curriculum or that would compromise our behavioral expectations.”

Local Stories

Recovery District’s New Enrollment System Draws 25,000 Applications
Times-Picayune – April 4, 2012
About 25,000 parents used the Recovery School District’s new common application to sign their children up for school this year. This is the first time families have been able to use one application to request a spot at any of the nearly 70 schools in the RSD. Parents will find out in May if they got their first choice.

Blue Ribbon Commission Members Selected
Recovery School District – March 28, 2012
As called for in the amended School Facilities Master Plan, OPSB and the RSD have formed a commission to develop recommendations for how future capital improvements and maintenance needs, which were not addressed by the School Facilities Master Plan, should be managed. Seven local community members, representing a cross section of business and industry, have been selected to serve on the commission.

Alabama’s Bentley, Bice See Innovations in Louisiana Charter Schools
Birmingham News – April 2, 2012
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and state Supt. Tommy Bice toured charter schools in New Orleans in preparation for an upcoming charter debate in the Alabama Legislature. After the tour, Gov. Bentley said, “Louisiana is about 15 years ahead of us.” Supt. Bice was not as certain as the governor that charters were right for Alabama.

‘NAACP: Take it Back’ March
WWL Radio – April 7, 2012
The NAACP recently held a Take it Back march with the goal of taking back the schools, the police department, and the criminal justice system in New Orleans. The NAACP says it wants to “Organize our community to: Take Back control of our schools from the RSD and take control of the operation of our schools by the charter organizations.”

McDonogh 35, Former Priestley Charter School in New Orleans Consider Merger
Times-Picayune – April 12, 2012
The Orleans Parish School Board is considering a proposal to combine McDonogh 35 with the Architecture Design Engineering Preparatory High School (ADEP), formerly known as Priestley Charter School of Architecture and Construction. Proponents of the plan say that bringing ADEP’s career and technical focus to McDonogh 35 will eliminate the extra costs of running a separate facility while opening up a wider set of courses to both groups of students.

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