Latest on OPSB Elections
One week after qualifying ended for November’s OPSB elections, one incumbent has been disqualified and three candidates have been elected without opposition.
Cynthia Cade was disqualified by a Civil District Court Judge who said she did not file her tax forms and signed false certification papers claiming that she had. Cade, who represents District 2 (Gentilly, New Orleans East), has 24 hours to appeal the decision. If the decision is not reversed, Ethan Ashley of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans will become the representative for District 2 when the new board takes office in January.
Ben Kleban was the latest candidate to be elected outright when his opponent, Eldon Anderson, withdrew. Kleban, who is the founder and president of the New Orleans College Prep charter school network, will represent the 5th District (Uptown).
YouthForce Internship (YFI), a partnership between Educate Now!, The City of New Orleans, and Juma Ventures, provides 60 hours of paid soft skills and business etiquette training followed by 90 hours of paid work experience with a local employer to rising juniors and seniors from eight participating high schools. Students are placed with employers in one of three high-wage, high-demand fields: bio/health, digital media/tech, and skilled crafts. Piloted last summer with 17 students and 12 employers, YFI scaled this summer to 61 students and 34 employers. Three of the participating employers have offered their interns continued employment through the fall.
Special thanks to Bloomberg Philanthropies, The City of New Orleans, JPMorgan Chase, United Way of Southeast Louisiana, and The WK Kellogg Foundation. This program would not be possible without their generous support.
We would like to also take this opportunity to thank our employer partners and congratulate our YFI students on the successful completion of their internships:
The state has released ACT and End of Course Test results for 2015-16. The results are disappointing and mark a pause in the steady progress we’ve made toward closing the gap with the state average.
- The average ACT Composite score for New Orleans (OPSB + RSD) remained flat at 18.8, while the state average improved slightly from 19.4 to 19.5. New Orleans’ district rank fell from 36th to 37th out of 69 parishes.
- The percent of students scoring 20 or higher on the ACT (a requirement for TOPS 4-year scholarships) fell from 38% to 35%. The state average remained flat at 45%.
- The percent of students scoring Excellent or Good on End of Course Tests (EOCs), fell from 61% to 58%. The state average remained flat at 62%.
The good news:
- New Orleans outperformed most other high-poverty districts (more than 75% economically disadvantaged students) on both the ACT and EOCs. Looking at the percent of seniors scoring 18 or higher on the ACT, only three high-poverty districts performed better than New Orleans – St. Bernard, Jefferson and Catahoula. Looking at the percent scoring Excellent or Good on the EOCs, only 2 high-poverty districts performed better – St. Bernard and Jefferson.
- Black students in New Orleans outperformed the national and state averages for black students, with a local ACT Composite score of 17.8, compared to 17.1 nationally1 and 17.4 for the state.
In Case You Missed It (ICMI) … Your mini news clippings
OPSB Elections and the Return of Schools
Qualifying for the School Board elections in November ended today:
- Two incumbents are re-elected without opposition: John Brown in District 1 and Sarah Usdin in District 3.
- One incumbent, Seth Bloom from District 5, is not seeking re-election. Two people qualified for his seat, Ben Kleban, founder of New Orleans College Prep, and Eldon “El” Anderson, who is in the music promotion business.
- In District 2, Ethan Ashley, an executive with the Urban League, is challenging incumbent Cynthia Cade.
- In District 4, incumbent Leslie Ellison has two challengers: attorney Morris Reed, Jr and Walter Umrani.
- In District 6, David Alvarez is challenging incumbent Woody Koppel.
- In District 7, incumbent Nolan Marshall also faces two challengers: Kwame Smith, who ran for the seat in 2012, and Alvin Crusto, Jr.
There’s a lot at stake in this election because with the passage of Act 91 the school board we elect this fall will set the tone for how this newly unified school district will operate.
In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) … Your mini news clippings
The Senate Finance Committee approved a budget plan that funds TOPS at 70% and cuts a total of $38 million from K-12 schools to help fund colleges, universities and medical schools. This plan has gone to the full Senate for approval. If this latest version of the budget is approved, the $44.2 million that K-12 received last year for teacher pay raises (outside of the MFP) is reduced to $6.2 million.
Beginning in 2017, Louisiana public schools will be required to teach cursive writing through 12th grade.
The end of the Common Core war: Louisiana lawmakers signed off on the Louisiana Student Standards, which replace the Common Core State Standards. To help with implementation, the Louisiana Department of Education has provided tools and resources for schools and districts.
In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) … Your mini news clippings
Budget Impacts Education
The state budget proposal approved by the House has a $72 million shortfall in TOPS Scholarship funding. The Senate is now considering the proposed budget and discussing two possible ways to handle the shortfall. One is to increase the minimum ACT score for TOPS, reducing the number of awards by about 13,000, and the second is to keep the minimum ACT score the same but reduce all scholarship amounts by about 25 percent.
The money in the proposed state budget for vouchers may not be enough to fund the program. Editor’s note: Returning voucher students will likely have the first priority. If there isn’t enough funding for new students, it could increase kindergarten enrollment in New Orleans public schools.
School Choice Updates
Slightly more than half of New Orleans students got their first choice of public school in the main round of the city’s common enrollment process, and 77 percent received one of their top three choices. TheEnrollNOLA report shows 91 percent of applicants who listed three or more schools in their neighborhood were matched with a school in their zone. More than half of the applicants listed a school outside of their neighborhood zone as their first choice. The top OneApp schools were Warren Easton High School and Ben Franklin Elementary.
Innovative Career Readiness Initiative prepares New Orleans students for college and a wide range of high-wage, high-demand careers; receives over $9 million of funding commitments
New Orleans- YouthForce NOLA (YFN), an education, business, and civic partnership, is launching a new career readiness initiative this June to help better prepare and connect New Orleans students to career pathways in high-wage, high-skill, high-demand fields. By providing grant funding and technical assistance to high schools, combined with industry exposure and preparation for students, YFN’s approach creates a demand-driven career readiness model designed to connect New Orleans students with regional economic opportunity.
Over the next ten years, more than 70,000 jobs in the skilled crafts, health sciences, and creative/tech industries will become available in the New Orleans region. YFN has set a goal that 20% of the Class of 2020 (and approximately 1,600 students total over the next five years) will earn industry recognized credentials qualifying them for entry-level jobs with clear advancement opportunities in these high-paying regional industries. Through partnerships with the business community, YFN helps expose students to these career opportunities and ensures curricula are focused on the skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow. “YouthForce NOLA expands our ability to prepare students for their futures; more students will earn industry recognized credentials and more will be prepared for post-secondary pathways because of this support,” says Warren Easton Charter High School Principal Alexina Medley.
New Orleans 4-year Cohort Graduation Rate Continues to Rise
The citywide 4-year graduation rate for New Orleans (OPSB+RSD) increased by 2.5 percentage points, bringing it to 75.2% of all students graduating on time.
Today, the state released
the 4-year cohort graduation rates for the Class of 2015. The Class of 2015 cohort includes all students who entered 9th grade for the first time in 2011, and the cohort graduation rate is the percentage of students in the cohort who graduated within four years.
New Orleans Outperforms the State in Every Key Sub-Group
In 2015, 73.3% of African-American students graduated on time in New Orleans, an increase of 2.6 percentage points from 2014 and 1.9 points higher than the state average of 71.4% for African-American students.
The New Orleans 4-year cohort graduation rates for other key sub-groups – students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, and English language learners – were also higher than the state average for these sub-groups.
If, when and how the Recovery School District (RSD) schools should return to local control has been a point of discussion and contention for the past ten years. On Wednesday, SB 432 by Senator Peterson unanimously passed the Senate and now heads to the House. If SB 432 becomes law, these questions are about to be answered.
SB 432 redefines the roles of the School Board and the district Superintendent, creating an opportunity for New Orleans to implement a reimagined school district in which:
- Parents choose the school best for their child
- Autonomous schools make unimpeded academic and personnel decisions on behalf of children
- The Superintendent authorizes schools to exist and regulates the fair treatment of students
- The School Board hires and fires the Superintendent, oversees the system’s financial health, and approves policy as needed
The risk going forward is one of execution:
- Will the Superintendent and School Board be willing to make the hard decisions necessary to promote excellence and equity for all students?
- How well will the Superintendent and the central office perform the current RSD functions?
Return of Schools is Close
State control over New Orleans schools could be coming to an end. A bill proposed by Sen. Karen Carter-Peterson would move all New Orleans RSD schools back to OPSB by 2018. There are some key sticking points for stakeholders, but this is the closest education officials and charter advocates have come to giving their blessing to a return plan.
State tuned – Educate Now! will be discussing this legislation in more detail later this week.
Differentiated Funding Lawsuit Update
Former state superintendent Paul Pastorek has filed his first case as an education attorney – intervening in Lusher and Lake Forest’s lawsuit against OPSB on behalf of four families with disabled students. The plaintiffs (Lusher and Lake Forest) are suing to block the new funding formula; these families are countering that the current public school funding is discriminatory.