In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) … Your mini news clippings
Update on District-Run Schools
Update on District-Run Schools
The accountability framework adopted by BESE will:
Critics of the plan called for a five month delay, saying there should be more input from stakeholders, but White said his agency has held 136 meetings on ESSA and there will still be months to get input and debate changes to the plan before it would be implemented in the 2017-18 school year.
YouthForce NOLA teamed up with Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans and Greater New Orleans, Inc., Thursday, March 9, to host a Career Expo to pair public high school sophomores with health science, information technology, and skilled craft employers.
Xavier University’s Convocation Center buzzed with energy as students engaged with employers to learn about different industries and careers.
“The Career Expo is a great motivational tool for our students,” said Warren Easton Charter HighSchool CEO/Principal Alexina Medley. Continue reading
Trump and K-12 Education
In his first address to Congress, President Trump urged Congress to dramatically expand school choice. Two days later, at a Catholic school in Florida, Trump and his Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, reaffirmed their commitment to choice.
The President is considering a federal tax credit scholarship program that would channel billions to families who want to send their children to private schools, including religious schools. Critics on the right worry this would increase the federal government’s role in education and pressure states to standardize state tax credit programs. Public school advocates say it’s a voucher program in disguise that would divert tax dollars from struggling public schools.
In an opinion piece for CNN, Andre Perry says DeVos should start by addressing the flaws of charter schools and vouchers, which she helped create. A new study of national and international voucher programs found no evidence that school vouchers offer students significant academic advantages or are a proven education reform strategy. Louisiana’s voucher program received a D for 2016, performing worse than all but three public school districts.
The superintendent and the Accountability Commission have recommended that student growth count for 25% of the school performance score for K-8 schools and 12.5% for high schools. Nine education and business groups criticized this recommendation, saying it would over-emphasize student progress and could mislead parents and the public about a school’s performance. In a guest column in the Advocate, Michael Petrilli of the Fordham Institute disagreed with their assessment, saying academic growth is actually a more accurate reflection of teacher and school performance.
An updated framework of Louisiana’s plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is available for public comment. The revised framework from state Superintendent John White details possible changes to how school performance is rated and how local school systems can apply for federal funding.
White’s ESSA plan includes less mandatory testing in public schools, but there is debate over how much testing should be reduced. White recommends modest changes; the governor’s panel favors much more, including an end to annual science testing in third through eighth grades; and teachers disagree over whether fewer tests will downgrade the importance of key subjects, especially science.
Other ESSA recommendations are stirring controversy, including how much weight should be given to student growth and how to phase in higher standards over time (whether schools should be graded on a curve).
ReNEW Schools has started a Tornado Relief Fund to help students from ReNEW Schaumberg Elementary, which suffered extensive tornado damage, as well as other ReNEW students impacted by the tornadoes.
Einstein Charter Schools has started a Go Fund Me campaign to help pay for school uniforms, school supplies, and other supports for their affected students, families, and teachers.
Communities in Schools New Orleans is accepting donations to support the specific needs of students and families from ReNEW Schaumberg and their other affiliated schools who were affected.
New Schools for New Orleans is collecting funds to support public school families. 100% of donations will go towards purchasing gift cards for families in need.
The American Red Cross is accepting donations to support their efforts to meet short term and long term housing needs.
The Greater New Orleans Foundation has opened the Helping Our Neighbors: Tornado Relief Fund to provide support to nonprofit organizations in the Greater New Orleans area providing assistance to affected families.
Will the State Freeze the MFP Again?
The MFP advisory committee has recommended the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) request a 1.375 percent increase in MFP funding ($35 million) for the 2017-18 school year, but Gov. John Bel Edwards is going to recommend legislators freeze basic aid to public schools for another year. Edwards might include an $18 million increase in his proposed budget for high-needs students and high school programs, but this targeted funding won’t give districts the income needed to offset the projected $38 million increase in payments to the Teacher Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL).
Teachers Retirement Systems Penalize New Teachers
A new study on teacher retirement systems finds that for the majority of new teachers, what they will receive in retirement benefits will be worth less than what they contributed, even if they stay in the school system for decades. The study looks at the largest school district in each state. In 27 districts, teachers have to work 21-30 years in the system before they reach the “crossover point” where their benefits are worth more than their contributions. In 35 districts, three-fourths of teachers will leave the system before they reach the crossover point, and in 3 districts the wait is infinite – benefits will never be more than contributions. In Jefferson Parish, the crossover point is 29 years. The Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL) requires a 12.3% contribution for current employees (employee + employer contribution). A large portion of this goes to fund benefits for retired teachers (the unfunded accrued liability). As mentioned above, TRSL costs are expected to go up by $38 million next year.
What a Friday! Earlier this month, the appeals court ruled that Type 2 charter schools are not public schools and cannot receive MFP funding and sent the case back to the district court. On Friday, the district court complied with the appellate ruling and issued an injunction that immediately barred the impacted Type 2 charters from receiving funding, stopping MFP payments effective 1/25. The defendants went back to the appellate court, which Friday evening agreed to lift the injunction so these schools could keep receiving money, and their 16,000 students would not be forced to change schools mid-year. This ended the immediate threat to Type 2 charter school funding. The case is now being appealed to the state Supreme Court.
In 2015, the Iberville School Board and the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) sued the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and the state, arguing it was unconstitutional to include Type 2 charters – schools authorized by BESE – inside the MFP. A District Court judge ruled in favor of the charter schools, but the plaintiffs appealed.
Yesterday, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. The court’s majority opinion stated that because these schools are not under the jurisdiction of a local school board, they are not public schools and cannot receive MFP funds. The dissenting opinion argued that nowhere in the state’s constitution or statutes does it say only schools authorized by local school districts are public schools.
This ruling, if left intact, could have a devastating impact on a number of area schools, although it’s unclear if it would affect all Type 2 charters and state-authorized schools, or just charter schools authorized after July 1, 2008.