ICYMI: How Trump Could Change Public Schools

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How Trump Could Change Public Schools

American Prospect magazine looks at how a Trump presidency could change public education. This analysis examines how the President-elect might expand school choice with charters, vouchers, and for-profit schools; decrease federal oversight and accountability; influence state and local policy in areas like Common Core; and limit funding for higher education research.

The confirmation hearing for Betsey DeVos, the President-Elect’s nominee for Secretary of Education, has been postponed until January 17. DeVos, is a billionaire and education activist who inspires strong opinion (both positive and negative) for her support of charters and vouchers and her efforts to reform Michigan public schools. In a piece for Politico, Andrew Vanacore of The Advocate explains how the New Orleans model differs from Michigan’s and could serve as a helpful guide to DeVos and the Trump administration. While her position on school choice has gotten the most attention, Andrew Rotherham maintains it’s important to know where she stands on other key issues, such as school accountability and the government’s role in enforcing civil rights in schools.
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ICYMI: Will OPSB Charter Its Last 5 Direct-Run Schools?

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Will OPSB Convert Remaining Schools to Charters?

It’s possible that OPSB’s five remaining direct-run schools will be converted to charters, making New Orleans the country’s first 100% charter school district. Supt. Henderson Lewis, Jr. received “informal expressions of interest from current school and charter leaders” about converting Ben Franklin Elementary, Eleanor McMain, Mahalia Jackson, Mary Bethune, and McDonogh 35 to charters authorized by OPSB.

Some McDonogh 35 alumni are concerned about converting McDonogh 35 high school into a charter school. After Katrina, OPSB converted most of its other direct-run high schools to charters, and all of these Type 3 conversion charters have an A or B letter grade, including those that are open-admission and participate in OneApp. McDonogh 35 received a low C in 2016 and is OPSB’s lowest rated high school.

 

Type 3 Charter
2016 Grade
Ben Franklin
A
Lusher
A
Edna Karr (open-enrollment)
A
Warren Easton (open-enrollment)
A
Sci High (open-enrollment)
B
 

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New Orleans by the Numbers: Enrollment by School Performance

 

Educate Now! combined October 1 enrollment numbers with School Performance Scores to view student enrollment by school letter grade.

  • Currently, 20% of students are enrolled in A schools (up one point from 2016), and 28% of students are enrolled D, F or T schools, the same as last year. The percentage of students in B schools fell 6 points from last year, and the percentage in C schools rose 4 points.

Enrollment by School Performance

School Grade
2016
2015
A 20% 19%
B 12% 18%
C 35% 31%
D 21% 20%
F 6% 5%
T 1% 3%
No SPS 4% 4%
 

In Other News

Who is Betsy DeVos?

President-elect Trump nominated Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. DeVos is a billionaire and an education activist from Michigan, and she is known as a strong proponent of school vouchers. She was chairwoman of the American Federation for Children (AFC), which is a leading national advocacy organization promoting school choice. Fordham Institute compiled some quotes from Betsy DeVos on choice and K-12 education.

Doug Harris, the director of Tulane University’s Education Research Alliance, penned an op-ed in the New York Times that compares New Orleans’ charter school performance and regulation to Detroit’s. Harris says the DeVos nomination should worry anyone who wants to improve results for children, as DeVos helped design the effort in Detroit, which did not have the needed regulation and accountability.

Education Week offers a reality check for both sides of the school choice debate, pointing out the challenges that anyone pushing for large-scale reform will face.

 
More on Charter Schools

Peter Cunningham of the Education Post says charter schools are working for children and parents, and he offers suggestions for how to change the charter school narrative to counter misinformation and confusion.

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ICYMI: New Orleans School Board Endorses Platform

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School Board Endorses Platform

The Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) is moving forward with a shared vision and platform for New Orleans schools. Five incumbents have retained their seats. Leslie Ellison, Woody Koppel and Nolan Marshall Jr. defeated their challengers in the recent election, and John Brown and Sarah Usdin won unopposed. Two new members join the school board: Ben Kleban and Ethan Ashley.

All seven members of the board have pledged their support for a series of goals and action items developed by Forward New Orleans Public Schools (FNOPS). The FNOPS platform covers eight different commitments: to expand high-quality, high-performing schools; serve students equitably; ensure equal access to schools; enforce school autonomy with accountability; act as a responsible resource manager; engage in system-wide strategic planning; collaborate to implement best practices; and promote academic excellence and equity for all public school students.

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2016 School Performance

The state has released the 2016 School Performance Scores. 

Highlights

  • Performance has improved. The District Performance Score for New Orleans (OPSB+RSD) increased 1.5 points after three years of no change.
  • New Orleans is only one-tenth of a point away from receiving a B letter grade.
  • While performance has improved, New Orleans did not keep pace with other districts. Our ranking went down two spots from last year – from 41st to 43rd.
  • Our schools were challenged to improve with the new, higher standards; 8 schools went up a letter grade, and 16 schools went down a letter grade.

District Performance



The District Performance Score (DPS) is the most comprehensive measurement of school and student performance. The DPS for New Orleans includes all students, all tests, and all grade levels for OPSB and RSD (including students that attended schools now closed). 


  • New Orleans’ DPS went up 1.5 points, from 83.4 to 84.9, the first change in three years.
  • New Orleans received a C letter grade again this year, but we are now just one tenth of a point away from a B.
  • New Orleans is ranked 43rd out of 69 districts, down two spots from last year.

Download the 2016 District Performance Scores for New Orleans Schools (xlsx).

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ICYMI: Positive Impact of School Closures and Takeovers

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Positive Impact: School Closures and Takeovers 

School closures and takeovers can have strong positive effects on student outcomes, according to a new report from Tulane’s Education Research Alliance. Their study looked at school closures and takeovers from 2008 to 2014 in New Orleans and Baton Rouge and found:

  • In New Orleans, interventions typically targeted very low-performing schools, and students attended better schools afterwards.
  • Elementary students in New Orleans saw the most benefit, with affected students not only catching up to their peers in the comparison group, but surpassing them.
  • High school interventions in New Orleans boosted graduation rates for affected students by 20 percentage points.
  • High school students in Baton Rouge saw no positive impact after closures and fared worse in takeover schools, probably because affected students ended up in lower performing schools.
  • 25 to 40 percent of New Orleans’ academic improvement since Katrina can be attributed to school closures and takeovers.

In his review of the study, Neerav Kingland said it’s clear there are good ways and bad ways to close schools, and cities should not close failing schools and send children to other failing schools. “But the NOLA data indicates that it’s possible to help both existing and future students, which should increase your belief in the benefits of school closure.”
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ICYMI: Proposed Changes for Louisiana Schools

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Department Releases Draft Louisiana ESSA Plan

State Supt. John White released a draft framework for how Louisiana can comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced No Child Left Behind last year. White’s plan includes changes in how public schools are rated, fewer tests, new assistance for persistently struggling schools, and better teacher preparation.

Earlier this year, Gov. John Bel Edwards named his own panel to do a separate review of the state’s public school policies. White says he looks forward to sharing his ideas with them. “This is not a political document,” he said. “We cannot go back to the political squabbles of old.”

White’s draft plan is set for discussion at nine meetings in October and November, including public gatherings and education panels. You can read the plan on the Department of Education’s website.

Divided Over Charter Schools

The African-American community is divided over charter schools. This month, the board of the NAACP will vote on a resolution, approved by its members, calling for a moratorium on new charters. Black Lives Matter took a similar position in their first-ever policy agenda.

In response, the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) helped start the Charters Work campaign and sent a letter to the NAACP, signed by 160 Black educators, advocates, lawmakers and religious leaders asking them to reject the moratorium. This group includes Cheryl Brown Henderson, the youngest daughter of the plaintiff in Brown v. Board of Education.

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Judge Rules Against Lusher and Lake Forest

Judge rules against Lusher and Lake Forest on differentiated school funding 

A federal judge has ruled against Lusher and Lake Forest and their attempt to halt changes to the differentiated funding formula. In the opinion of Judge Jane Triche Milazzo:

  1. The schools would not experience irreparable harm if the new formula was implemented.
  2. Changing the formula did not violate the schools’ charter contracts.

The judge declined to rule on whether the funding formula had been adopted legally, saying state courts should consider the matter first. 

Last spring, OPSB and RSD worked together to develop a unified per-student funding formula, an important stage in returning RSD schools to local control. The unified formula emphasizes students with disabilities, with a small extra amount for each gifted student. Lusher and Lake Forest, with their large gifted populations and small number of students with disabilities, will receive less money than they would have under the old formula.

The schools say they are considering their options at this time.