Governance

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 »

In the News: June 16, 2013

In this edition of In the News:

  • Ira Thomas: The Saga Continues
  • Louisiana Headlines
  • Poor Voucher Performance
  • RSD in the News
  • National Education Stories
  • OPSB Updates
  • From the RSD
  • Shout Out

Ira Thomas: The Saga Continues 

Orleans Parish School Board president’s SUNO job description not valid, university says
Times-Picayune – June 7, 2013
OPSB President Ira Thomas could be violating state law by serving on the Orleans Parish School Board while also working as Police Chief for Southern University at New Orleans (a state entity). The question is whether the law’s educational exemption applies. It allows dual office holding if the person “is employed in a professional educational capacity.” Read More »

In the News – June 2, 2013

In this edition of In the News:

  • Legislative and Legal Updates
  • Other Louisiana News
  • Common Core Updates
  • National Headlines
  • Local Stories

Legislative and Legal Updates 

The Louisiana Supreme Court vacated the district court ruling that Act 1 (teacher evaluation and tenure) was a dual-object bill. Essentially, the justices want the district court judge to reconsider his ruling on Act 1 based on the fact that the Supreme Court recently ruled Act 2 (school choice) was a single object.

Louisiana’s legislative session ends this Thursday (June 6th). Here’s what’s happening on the K-12 Education front:

Act 2: Financial Implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling that vouchers and Course Choice could not be funded through the MFP and that the 2012-13 MFP resolution was not legally adopted.

Read More »

What Does N.O. Think About Education Reforms

There has been much discussion about how folks really view education reforms in New Orleans. Last week, Tulane’s Cowen Institute released a 2013 public opinion poll providing data that replaces pure speculation with poll results on how voters feel about key issues.

Key Findings

Voters agreed more than they disagreed, reflecting consensus on some key points:

  • Support for school choice for families, with only 21% wanting a return to neighborhood schools;
  • Replacing operators of low-performing schools with charter operators who have demonstrated success (65%);
  • The need for the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) to make structural and operational changes before schools are returned (65%), with a strong preference (41%) for a local school board with a mix of elected and appointed members; only 16% of voters believe OPSB as currently structured should have oversight of all charter schools.
  • While black and white voters disagreed on when to return schools, the majority (55%) feel return should be in the more distant future (3-5 years) or never.

Read More »

News Alert: Is Ira Thomas Breaking State Law?

OPSB President Ira Thomas could be violating state law by holding a seat on the Orleans Parish School Board while also working for the state.

Thomas has served on the Orleans Parish School Board for the past four years. He has been Police Chief for Southern University at New Orleans for three and a half years. By holding both positions, he may be violating Louisiana’s Dual Office Holding and Dual Employment Law.

The law states: “No person holding an elective office in a political subdivision of this state shall at the same time hold another elective office or full-time appointive office in the government of this state or in the government of a political subdivision thereof. No such person shall hold at the same time employment in the government of this state, or in the same political subdivision in which he holds an elective office.”

Read more about Thomas and what might happen next in The Lens.

Update 3-19-13:  Board President Ira Thomas said he will seek the opinion of the state Attorney General on whether it is legal for him to be both the board President and an employee of Southern University at New Orleans, where he directs security. 

OPSB Elections Bring New Faces to the Table

In the OPSB elections on November 6, three incumbents were defeated. With so many new faces on the OPSB, its future direction and focus are uncertain. One of the first major decisions for this new School Board will be selecting the next superintendent.

Read more about the new School Board:  Orleans Parish School Board elections leave unresolved questions

Election Results

District 1 – Incumbent Ira Thomas (68%) defeats Heidi Lovett Daniels (32%)
District 2 – Incumbent Cynthia Cade (51%) defeats Dwight McKenna (38%) and Durrell Laurent (11%)
District 3 – Sarah Usdin (58%) defeats incumbent Brett Bonin (32%) and Karran Harper Royal (10%)
District 4 – Leslie Ellison (52%) defeats incumbent Lourdes Moran (48%)
District 6 – Incumbent Woody Koppel (66%) defeats Jason Coleman (34%)
District 7 – Nolan Marshall (68%) defeats incumbent Thomas Robichaux (21%) and Kwame Smith (11%)

In other election news: Term limits for school boards seeing wide approval