In the News

ICYMI: Election Results and Education Reform

Election Results and Education Reform
John Bel Edwards will be Louisiana’s next governor. Despite his assurances, many education advocates are worried charter schools will be in jeopardy.
Two BESE elections were also decided Saturday. Kathy Edmonston won District 6 (Baton Rouge area), replacing Chas Roemer, and Tony Davis won District 4 (Shreveport area). While John Bel Edwards stated again today his intention to replace Superintendent John White, it is unlikely he can do so. With the election of Tony Davis, John White has the support of 7 BESE members, and it would take 8 of the 11 members to replace him.

John Bel Edwards has been a vocal critic of Common Core, but uprooting the academic standards from classrooms will be a huge challenge with the recent compromise bill passed by the Legislature.
Read More »

ICYMI: BESE Election Results

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

Election Results

Backers of strong accountability and standards won a majority of seats in Saturday’s BESE elections. The New Orleans area solidly supported incumbents Kira Orange Jones in the 1st District and James Garvey in the 2nd. Saturday’s losers included incumbents Lottie Beebe and Carolyn Hill, vocal critics of Common Core and state Superintendent John White. Two other seats will be determined in a runoff election on November 21, and the remaining three seats will be appointed by Louisiana’s next governor. Who the governor appoints, along with the outcome of two runoffs, will determine how united or divided BESE will be going forward.

The race for OPSB’s 1st District will be decided in a runoff election on November 21 between John Brown Sr. and Keith Barney. This is a special election to replace Ira Thomas, who resigned in March after being charged with corruption.
Eyeing New Orleans as a Model
The Hechinger Report examines some of the challenges and successes of turnaround districts, including Louisiana’s RSD.
Read More »

Grant Opportunity for Open Enrollment Orleans Parish Public High Schools

YouthForce NOLA Career Readiness Initiative

Proposals due November 4, 2015

The YouthForce NOLA Steering Committee seeks proposals from schools interested in exploring, piloting and planning, or implementing high-quality career and technical education school models. Grants will help build the capacity of schools to offer the necessary coursework and experiences so students may develop the knowledge and skills to pursue high-wage, high-demand career pathways.


YouthForce NOLA will support New Orleans open-enrollment, public high schools looking to refine and expand their school models around CTE. Schools will be eligible for the following grants: 

  • Exploration: up to $10,000, plus technical assistance
  • Pilot + Plan: up to $40,000, plus technical assistance
  • Implementation: up to $300,000 over three years, plus technical assistance
Multiple grant rounds are anticipated over the next three to five years. A limited amount of funding is available for this first round; applicants not selected will be invited to re-apply in future rounds.

Download the YouthForce NOLA Schools RFP. All open enrollment New Orleans public high schools are eligible to apply.

Read More »

ICYMI: Top Stories

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

Top Stories

OPSB Superintendent Henderson Lewis surprised many with the honesty of his remarks during a presentation on his first six months on the job. Dr. Lewis said we have to “be real” and see New Orleans schools for where they really are. He called it misleading to say OPSB is an “A” district when, if you take just the direct-run (network) schools, OPSB would have a score of 77.7 and would rank 54th in the state. He also said if we expect schools to return to local control, we have to start viewing New Orleans schools as one system. “The most important score this morning is 83.4,” he said, “because that score represents every single school in New Orleans.” View Dr. Lewis’ presentation on his first 180 days.
A coalition of eighty colleges and universities, including all of the Ivy League, is trying to change the college admissions process. They are abandoning the Common Application, and they want students to focus on their portfolio of work beginning in 9th grade. Read More »

ICYMI: Catching Up

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

Katrina Anniversary Coverage

There was a lot of national media coverage of New Orleans K-12 education reform during the Katrina 10 anniversary week.

Educate Now! has posted a list of national stories about New Orleans K-12 education from the week (or so) before the anniversary for those of you who might be interested.

National Stories of Interest

The Urban Institute says college is surprisingly affordable for the lowest income Americans and argues that families need to be made aware of financial aid options much earlier to give them time to prepare for college properly.

A recent study found kindergartners with good social skills are more likely to succeed as adults.

Read More »

Kudos to OPSB

OPSB took a huge step forward last week by passing a strong charter school policy (Policy HA).

Policy HA was needed because OPSB did not have clear and consistent rules governing charter school operations. As a result, some OPSB charters participate in the city’s common enrollment system; others do not. Some provide transportation; others do not. And some have negotiated special neighborhood preferences that are different from the citywide zones that almost all other schools in the city use. These different rules fostered distrust between schools and confusion for parents trying to navigate the system of schools. (Note: The RSD requires all of its charter schools to participate in EnrollNOLA (OneApp) and to provide transportation.)

For OPSB to be a good authorizer and regulator of charter schools, it needed policy that created consistent rules for everyone and a framework for new charter schools. Policy HA lays an excellent foundation.

New Charter Schools: Going forward, all new charter schools authorized by OPSB:
  • Must provide transportation.
  • Must participate in the citywide enrollment system (OneApp/EnrollNOLA).
  • Cannot have a neighborhood attendance zone different than the zones in the citywide enrollment plan.
  • Cannot be academically selective.
  • Can, as part of its initial charter application, have non-academic admission criteria, tied into its mission and scope. For example, Cypress Academy has a mission-specific focus on early intervention in reading and reserves spaces for students with dyslexia.

Read More »

ICYMI: In Other News

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

BESE President Chas Roemer, one of the state’s top backers of Common Core, said he will not seek a third term. All eight elected BESE seats will be on the ballot October 24. Each seat has drawn multiple candidates, and the candidates have sharply contrasting views on Common Core, state Superintendent of Education John White, and other topics.

Also on the October ballot is a special election to fill the unexpired term of Ira Thomas. The three candidates for OPSB’s First District seat are all current or former educators: Keith Barney is a teacher at Arthur Ashe Charter and chair of the board of Mary Coghill Charter; Shawon Bernard is a lawyer and mathematics teacher at Helen Cox High in Harvey; and John Brown Sr. led Phillips Junior High, Harriet Tubman Elementary and Alcee Fortier High and is now serving on OPSB as the interim board member for Thomas’ seat.

With the Katrina 10 anniversary behind us, discussions are moving to what’s next for NOLA public schools. One conversation that will be gaining traction: Diversity by Design. asks “Has gentrification begun in New Orleans public schools?” and Ben Kleban, founder/CEO of New Orleans College Prep Charter Schools says all schools should be diverse by design, so more middle class and white parents will chose to send their child to public school. Kleban points out that nine schools enroll 50% of the school system’s higher-income students and 74% of the white students, even though there are seventeen other A and B open-enrollment schools.

OPSB has approved Superintendent Lewis’ plan for restructuring OPSB’s central office, which creates a portfolio unit to monitor the performance of all OPSB schools, not just charters, and provides for operating the five OPSB direct-run schools in a semi-charter fashion, giving their principals significant autonomy.

Thank A Teacher!


It’s true! New Orleans has seen dramatic improvements in student performance over the last ten years. These gains wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and tireless dedication of our teachers.
Show your support for New Orleans teachers by sharing this email with your friends or uploading this Thank You message to Facebook or Twitter.
You can also order a free Thank A Teacher bumper sticker from Educate Now! Just reply to this email, and be sure to include your mailing address so we know where to send it.*
Public schools in New Orleans are #1 for academic improvement in the state. Thank a teacher today!

National Coverage of New Orleans K-12 Education Ten Years After Katrina

The 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina generated extensive national coverage of New Orleans K-12 education reforms.

Excerpt from President Obama’s speech

“Working together, we’ve transformed education in this city. Before the storm, New Orleans public schools were largely broken, leaving generations of low-income kids without a decent education. Today, thanks to parents and educators, school leaders, nonprofits, we’re seeing real gains in achievement, with new schools, more resources to retain and develop and support great teachers and principals. We have data that shows before the storm, the high school graduation rate was 54 percent. Today, it’s up to 73 percent. Before the storm, college enrollment was 37 percent. Today, it’s almost 60 percent. We still have a long way to go, but that is real progress. New Orleans is coming back better and stronger.”

Broadcast Media

Superintendent John White on MSNBC

NBC on the state of schools post Katrina

Roland Martin on Troy Simon, who could not read until age 14 and is now at senior at Bard College

The 74: Videos of Past, Present and Future of New Orleans schools

NBC highlights New Orleans education and includes the YouthRise rally

Read More »

NY Magazine counters NY Times

Supt. John White is not the only one to take exception to the New York Times op-ed.

Jonathan Chait wrote a great piece for New York Magazine‘s called How New Orleans Proved Urban Education Reform Can Work.


Peter Cook provides a detailed fact check on the op-ed.