Governance

News Alert: OPSB seeking interim to fill Ira Thomas’ seat

The Orleans Parish School Board is seeking an interim replacement for board member Ira Thomas.
Thomas resigned Friday, March 6 upon being charged with taking a bribe.

The school board has 10 business days to find a replacement to fill Thomas’ seat until a Special Election is called. They are hoping to appoint a qualified person at their March 17 meeting, but if they can’t agree on a candidate, Governor Bobby Jindal must appoint someone.

OPSB has put out a call for candidates. Anyone interested must hand deliver a Letter of Interest to the OPSB office by noon on Thursday, March 12. Candidates must be at least 18 years old, a resident of Louisiana for the last two years and of District 1 for the last year.

OPSB is hoping to get someone well-versed on school matters who “can just jump on board.” This is important since the school board is in the middle of negotiating a contract with its new superintendent, Henderson Lewis Jr.

To apply:

Letters of Interest should be addressed to Board President Seth Bloom and hand delivered to the OPSB Board Office, 3520 General de Gaulle Drive, Suite 5055, New Orleans by noon on Thursday, March 12, 2015.

Read More »

OPSB Selects Superintendent

ICYMI … Your mini news clippings

  • In this letter to the editor, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Juvenile Court Chief Judge Gray and others applaud the One-App’s centralized enrollment process and congratulate the RSD for its efforts to hold schools accountable for serving all students.

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Charter Schools Help Improve Special Education in New Orleans

This guest editorial appeared in the Times-Picayune, and I wanted to share it with you.

Charter Schools Help Improve Special Education in New Orleans: Leslie Jacobs

In fourth grade, James, a special needs student at John Dibert Charter School, was struggling academically and behaviorally. He was making daily trips to the dean’s office for disruptive behavior and emotional outbursts. James is now on honor roll in eighth grade, scored mastery and advanced on state tests and is applying to Ben Franklin High School.

Zaria transferred to Arthur Ashe Charter School at the beginning of second grade as a special education student, reading at kindergarten level. By the end of fourth grade she scored mastery in English.

Zaria and James are two of the many students who have benefited from the city’s improvement in serving students with special needs.

Read More »

Schools Need Your Help

Times-Picayune and Gambit have both come out in support of the school facility millage on December 6th.

  • Before the flood, many schools in New Orleans were old and in deplorable shape because of years of deferred maintenance. There was no dedicated stream of revenue for repairs. It would be a terrible waste to allow that to happen again with the schools being built or refurbished post-Katrina.
  • This proposition will NOT increase your taxes: The 4.97 mill tax currently received by schools to pay construction bond debt would be redirected gradually (when not needed to pay the bonds) and dedicated to facility preservation. Your taxes will not increase.

Help pass the millage – What YOU can do:

  • VOTE on December 6th! Turnout looks to be low, so every vote is important.
  • Share this information with your friends.
  • Put up a yard sign. Email me at ljacobs@educatenow.net, and I will get you one.

Read More »

News Alert: Supreme Court Dismisses Fired Teacher Lawsuit

The Louisiana Supreme Court has dismissed the lawsuit by OPSB teachers and staff who said they were illegally terminated after Hurricane Katrina.

Read more in this Times-Picayune article.

And for those who are interested, the ruling contains a very good summary of the events post Katrina.

 

Common Core: What happened last week?

Latest on Common Core – Round 2 

Last week, Governor Bobby Jindal played to his national ambitions and announced his plans to take Louisiana out of Common Core and PARCC. The Louisiana Department of Education and the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) responded saying they plan to stay the course on Common Core and PARCC, resulting in confusion among educators and the public.

Educate Now! will try and cut through the clutter and distill the salient points.

First, a primer: 

Standards: What we expect students to know and be able to do. In the past, every state had its own standards, but in 2010, BESE adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), along with more than forty other states.

Curriculum: What teachers use in the classroom to teach the standards. Districts, schools and teachers have the autonomy to pick the actual teaching materials and manner in which they want to teach. The state has issued curriculum guides to assist educators, but there is no set national or state curriculum.

Tests: How we assess student mastery of the standards. Well-designed tests are expensive and take time to develop. Louisiana joined a consortium of states to create the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC test, while a different consortium of states created the Smarter Balance test. Both groups began working on the tests in 2010 and field tested questions for quality and rigor in 2013 and 2014. Fifty thousand Louisiana students took a PARCC field test this year, giving schools experience in administering the test while further “testing” the questions for quality, clarity and rigor.

Now to last week’s events … 

Common Core: The governor will not win this one.

The standards are still in place, and the governor cannot force BESE to adopt new standards. While Jindal’s executive order asked the legislature to adopt new standards, he cannot require them to do so, and the legislature just rejected this request last session.

Read More »

Can the Governor Derail Common Core?

Common Core: Governor v. the People

The Louisiana Legislature, the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the State Superintendent of Education have stood strong in support of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests.

On June 6, after Gov. Jindal failed in his efforts to kill CCSS and PARCC during the legislative session, he stated, “It is time for the Department of Education to come up with a Plan B … I am committed to getting us out of PARCC, out of Common Core.”

The question is … does Jindal have the constitutional authority to unilaterally get the state out of Common Core and PARCC?

First, BESE has the constitutional authority to enact the standards and select the test. 

BESE “shall supervise and control the public elementary and secondary schools … as provided by law.”

Second, the law clearly provides for CCSS and PARCC, and every attempt to change the law this session was defeated. The law states:

“Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, standards-based assessments implemented by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in English language arts and mathematics shall be based on nationally recognized content standards … Rigorous student achievement standards shall be set with reference to test scores of the same grade levels nationally.”

So, by what means could Jindal thwart this authority?

Educate Now! is skeptical that the governor can force BESE to drop Common Core and adopt new standards. Even if he convened a commission to write new standards, BESE would not have to adopt them. He would likely focus on eliminating the PARCC tests because Common Core standards without tests aligned to these standards would be pretty meaningless.

Read More »

In the News – First All Charter District

First All-Charter District

In New Orleans, major school district closes traditional public schools for good
The Recovery School District is closing its last five traditionally run schools at the end of this year, which will make it the first all-charter district in the country. The story has received national coverage from The Washington Post, NPR, PBS, Diane Ravich and others, and local coverage from The Times-Picayune and Louisiana Weekly.

While this has not been a major local story, the national media is abuzz as New Orleans has become the poster child in a national debate (fight) over how to improve public education.

Common Core Updates

Jindal wants La. out of Common Core
Gov. Bobby Jindal is committed to getting Louisiana out of Common Core and the PARCC tests that go with it. “It is time for the Department of Education to come up with a plan B,” he said. At a Common Core summit for teachers Superintendent John White said enough Common Core political fighting. Plans for the new academic goals have been in the works among students and teachers for the past four years. Teachers deserve to know what they will be teaching come August.

The legislature passed only one Common Core-related bill this session – House Bill 953, which gives teachers and schools an additional year (three years instead of two) before being penalized for poor performance on new PARCC assessments. It will likely be vetoed by the Governor.

Read More »

Court Rules Schools Don’t Have to Return


By refusing to hear further appeal, the Louisiana Supreme Court has put an end to OPSB’s lawsuit against the state, which argued schools should be returned automatically to local control after five years if they are no longer failing.

In 2010, BESE decided each charter board had the right to decide whether it wanted to leave the RSD and return to local control. (So far, none has done so.) OPSB argued that keeping schools indefinitely exceeded the state’s constitutional authority, but the board lost its case in district court and again on appeal.

Read more in this article from the Times-Picayune.

 

New Orleans Expulsion Rate Below State Average

The Recovery School District (RSD) and the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) announced the results of the first year of the new expulsion policy for public schools in Orleans Parish.

  • There were 272 expulsions in the 2012-13 school year, for an expulsion rate of .57%
  • In comparison, the state had an expulsion rate of .7%
  • New Orleans’ expulsion rate is 20% below the state

Not only is New Orleans leading the state in academic gains, we are doing so while expelling fewer students than the state average.

What did New Orleans do differently in the 2012-13 school year?

  • Common expulsion process and definition: Charter and traditional school leaders across the RSD, OPSB, and Type 2 charter schools worked together to establish a joint policy and coordinate a centralized process for student expulsions.

The 2012-13 school year was the inaugural year, with 90 of the 91 public schools in New Orleans participating. These schools agreed that all expulsion hearings would be administered by the RSD’s Student Hearing Office and agreed to limit the reasons a student could be expelled. Read More »