Governance

ICYMI: HB 166 (Bouie) Defeated

In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) … Your mini news clipping

HB 166 (Bouie) Defeated

The Louisiana House of Representatives defeated HB 166 (Bouie) return of schools 33-61. The Times-Picayune would agree with this decision.

State Headlines

A District Court ruled BESE’s funding of type 2 charters in the MFP is constitutional. The judge said Type 2 charter schools are clearly public schools, and it was proper to support them with the use of public funds. The plaintiffs will appeal.
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Common Core Compromise Reached

Legislators and Superintendent John White have reached a compromise on a plan to move forward with Louisiana student standards and tests.

Both sides of the Common Core debate will declare a victory with this compromise.

For Common Core opponents:
  • BESE will begin a review process of the standards and come up with proposed new/revised standards by February 21, 2016.
  • The public, the Legislature, and Louisiana’s next governor will be able to weigh in on any new proposed standards.
  • Louisiana will no longer be part of the PARCC consortium for its tests. Next year’s tests will have no more than 49% of questions from PARCC.
For Common Core supporters:
  • Louisiana will keep its commitment to more rigorous standards and will have tests that allow Louisiana to compare its performance to other states.
  • The existing Common Core standards will remain in place until new standards are developed and approved.
  • Although new standards must be approved by the Legislature and the governor, any decision must be on the standards as a whole; they can’t edit specific parts. A No vote means BESE goes back to the drawing board, and the existing standards remain in place.

For more on the compromise and the proposed legislation that will make it possible, click on the links below.

View the proposed plan: Terms of an Agreement to Implement Challenging Louisiana Student Standards and Tests.

Read a Statement from the Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL) on the proposed compromise.

Read more about the proposed compromise on Nola.com.

NOT NOW – Say NO to HB 166

House Bill 166 (Rep. Bouie, D-New Orleans) passed the Education Committee by the slimmest of margins and will now go to the House for a vote.

If enacted, HB 166 would require RSD New Orleans schools that are no longer failing to return to the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) as early as this fall.

OPSB is not ready for the return of these schools.

OPSB’s new superintendent, Henderson Lewis, Jr., has said he isn’t sure yet whether the district would be ready for the transfer of schools.

In an interview with The Advocate, Lewis pointed out that some of the most important functions of any central office in a charter-dominated school system are still carried out by RSD officials, including the central enrollment system and the hearing office for students facing expulsion. OPSB doesn’t have the policies or systems in place it will need to manage all the schools.

OPSB remains dysfunctional on many levels. It took the board 2½ years to hire a new superintendent. They have not been able to build consensus and pass new policies, even on easy issues that would bring OPSB into compliance with state law. And the recent indictment of former OPSB president Ira Thomas is an unfortunate reminder of the corruption that has plagued the OPSB.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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