ICYMI: Update on Threat to Charter Funding

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Update on Charter Funding

What a Friday! Earlier this month, the appeals court ruled that Type 2 charter schools are not public schools and cannot receive MFP funding and sent the case back to the district court.  On Friday, the district court complied with the appellate ruling and issued an injunction that immediately barred the impacted Type 2 charters from receiving funding, stopping MFP payments effective 1/25. The defendants went back to the appellate court, which Friday evening agreed to lift the injunction so these schools could keep receiving money, and their 16,000 students would not be forced to change schools mid-year. This ended the immediate threat to Type 2 charter school funding. The case is now being appealed to the state Supreme Court.

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Type 2 Charter Funding Threatened

Appeals Court says Type 2 charter schools are not public schools, jeopardizing their funding

 
In a 3-2 split decision, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Type 2 charter schools are not public schools and cannot receive MFP funds.

In 2015, the Iberville School Board and the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) sued the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and the state, arguing it was unconstitutional to include Type 2 charters – schools authorized by BESE – inside the MFP. A District Court judge ruled in favor of the charter schools, but the plaintiffs appealed.

Yesterday, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. The court’s majority opinion stated that because these schools are not under the jurisdiction of a local school board, they are not public schools and cannot receive MFP funds. The dissenting opinion argued that nowhere in the state’s constitution or statutes does it say only schools authorized by local school districts are public schools.

What does this mean for New Orleans?

This ruling, if left intact, could have a devastating impact on a number of area schools, although it’s unclear if it would affect all Type 2 charters and state-authorized schools, or just charter schools authorized after July 1, 2008.
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ICYMI: How Trump Could Change Public Schools

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How Trump Could Change Public Schools

American Prospect magazine looks at how a Trump presidency could change public education. This analysis examines how the President-elect might expand school choice with charters, vouchers, and for-profit schools; decrease federal oversight and accountability; influence state and local policy in areas like Common Core; and limit funding for higher education research.

The confirmation hearing for Betsey DeVos, the President-Elect’s nominee for Secretary of Education, has been postponed until January 17. DeVos, is a billionaire and education activist who inspires strong opinion (both positive and negative) for her support of charters and vouchers and her efforts to reform Michigan public schools. In a piece for Politico, Andrew Vanacore of The Advocate explains how the New Orleans model differs from Michigan’s and could serve as a helpful guide to DeVos and the Trump administration. While her position on school choice has gotten the most attention, Andrew Rotherham maintains it’s important to know where she stands on other key issues, such as school accountability and the government’s role in enforcing civil rights in schools.
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ICYMI: Will OPSB Charter Its Last 5 Direct-Run Schools?

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Will OPSB Convert Remaining Schools to Charters?

It’s possible that OPSB’s five remaining direct-run schools will be converted to charters, making New Orleans the country’s first 100% charter school district. Supt. Henderson Lewis, Jr. received “informal expressions of interest from current school and charter leaders” about converting Ben Franklin Elementary, Eleanor McMain, Mahalia Jackson, Mary Bethune, and McDonogh 35 to charters authorized by OPSB.

Some McDonogh 35 alumni are concerned about converting McDonogh 35 high school into a charter school. After Katrina, OPSB converted most of its other direct-run high schools to charters, and all of these Type 3 conversion charters have an A or B letter grade, including those that are open-admission and participate in OneApp. McDonogh 35 received a low C in 2016 and is OPSB’s lowest rated high school.

 

Type 3 Charter
2016 Grade
Ben Franklin
A
Lusher
A
Edna Karr (open-enrollment)
A
Warren Easton (open-enrollment)
A
Sci High (open-enrollment)
B
 

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In Other News

Who is Betsy DeVos?

President-elect Trump nominated Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. DeVos is a billionaire and an education activist from Michigan, and she is known as a strong proponent of school vouchers. She was chairwoman of the American Federation for Children (AFC), which is a leading national advocacy organization promoting school choice. Fordham Institute compiled some quotes from Betsy DeVos on choice and K-12 education.

Doug Harris, the director of Tulane University’s Education Research Alliance, penned an op-ed in the New York Times that compares New Orleans’ charter school performance and regulation to Detroit’s. Harris says the DeVos nomination should worry anyone who wants to improve results for children, as DeVos helped design the effort in Detroit, which did not have the needed regulation and accountability.

Education Week offers a reality check for both sides of the school choice debate, pointing out the challenges that anyone pushing for large-scale reform will face.

 
More on Charter Schools

Peter Cunningham of the Education Post says charter schools are working for children and parents, and he offers suggestions for how to change the charter school narrative to counter misinformation and confusion.

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ICYMI: New Orleans School Board Endorses Platform

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School Board Endorses Platform

The Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) is moving forward with a shared vision and platform for New Orleans schools. Five incumbents have retained their seats. Leslie Ellison, Woody Koppel and Nolan Marshall Jr. defeated their challengers in the recent election, and John Brown and Sarah Usdin won unopposed. Two new members join the school board: Ben Kleban and Ethan Ashley.

All seven members of the board have pledged their support for a series of goals and action items developed by Forward New Orleans Public Schools (FNOPS). The FNOPS platform covers eight different commitments: to expand high-quality, high-performing schools; serve students equitably; ensure equal access to schools; enforce school autonomy with accountability; act as a responsible resource manager; engage in system-wide strategic planning; collaborate to implement best practices; and promote academic excellence and equity for all public school students.

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ICYMI: Positive Impact of School Closures and Takeovers

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Positive Impact: School Closures and Takeovers 

School closures and takeovers can have strong positive effects on student outcomes, according to a new report from Tulane’s Education Research Alliance. Their study looked at school closures and takeovers from 2008 to 2014 in New Orleans and Baton Rouge and found:

  • In New Orleans, interventions typically targeted very low-performing schools, and students attended better schools afterwards.
  • Elementary students in New Orleans saw the most benefit, with affected students not only catching up to their peers in the comparison group, but surpassing them.
  • High school interventions in New Orleans boosted graduation rates for affected students by 20 percentage points.
  • High school students in Baton Rouge saw no positive impact after closures and fared worse in takeover schools, probably because affected students ended up in lower performing schools.
  • 25 to 40 percent of New Orleans’ academic improvement since Katrina can be attributed to school closures and takeovers.

In his review of the study, Neerav Kingland said it’s clear there are good ways and bad ways to close schools, and cities should not close failing schools and send children to other failing schools. “But the NOLA data indicates that it’s possible to help both existing and future students, which should increase your belief in the benefits of school closure.”
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ICYMI: Proposed Changes for Louisiana Schools

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Department Releases Draft Louisiana ESSA Plan

State Supt. John White released a draft framework for how Louisiana can comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced No Child Left Behind last year. White’s plan includes changes in how public schools are rated, fewer tests, new assistance for persistently struggling schools, and better teacher preparation.

Earlier this year, Gov. John Bel Edwards named his own panel to do a separate review of the state’s public school policies. White says he looks forward to sharing his ideas with them. “This is not a political document,” he said. “We cannot go back to the political squabbles of old.”

White’s draft plan is set for discussion at nine meetings in October and November, including public gatherings and education panels. You can read the plan on the Department of Education’s website.

Divided Over Charter Schools

The African-American community is divided over charter schools. This month, the board of the NAACP will vote on a resolution, approved by its members, calling for a moratorium on new charters. Black Lives Matter took a similar position in their first-ever policy agenda.

In response, the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) helped start the Charters Work campaign and sent a letter to the NAACP, signed by 160 Black educators, advocates, lawmakers and religious leaders asking them to reject the moratorium. This group includes Cheryl Brown Henderson, the youngest daughter of the plaintiff in Brown v. Board of Education.

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Judge Rules Against Lusher and Lake Forest

Judge rules against Lusher and Lake Forest on differentiated school funding 

A federal judge has ruled against Lusher and Lake Forest and their attempt to halt changes to the differentiated funding formula. In the opinion of Judge Jane Triche Milazzo:

  1. The schools would not experience irreparable harm if the new formula was implemented.
  2. Changing the formula did not violate the schools’ charter contracts.

The judge declined to rule on whether the funding formula had been adopted legally, saying state courts should consider the matter first. 

Last spring, OPSB and RSD worked together to develop a unified per-student funding formula, an important stage in returning RSD schools to local control. The unified formula emphasizes students with disabilities, with a small extra amount for each gifted student. Lusher and Lake Forest, with their large gifted populations and small number of students with disabilities, will receive less money than they would have under the old formula.

The schools say they are considering their options at this time.

ICYMI: Updates for September 12, 2016

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National Headlines

To graduate from high school, Colorado requires students show proficiency in English and math. Districts are revising their graduation requirements, allowing students to demonstrate proficiency in a variety of ways. The state guidelines provide a “menu” of options, including SAT scores; passing a concurrent enrollment college-level course; earning a score of 2 or higher out of 5 on an Advanced Placement test; or completing a college thesis-like capstone project demonstrating knowledge of a subject.

A new study shows low-income kindergartners are entering school with stronger math and reading skills, narrowing the large academic gap with their more affluent peers.

The public continues to support many school reforms, according to Education Next’s 10th annual opinion poll, including charter schools, federally mandated testing, and teacher tenure reform. Backing for Common Core and school vouchers, however, fell to new lows in 2016.

School districts are working to identify homeless students, including those “hidden” in other people’s homes or living in motels or cars. More than 1.3 million students are considered homeless in the U.S. A new federal law requires states to break out performance data for homeless students, in addition to other sub-groups.

Closer to Home

In Bossier Parish, hundreds of individuals with disabilities who didn’t graduate from high school could receive their diploma retroactively. Bossier Schools is the pilot district for the implementation of a new state law that says individuals with disabilities can petition their local school system if they were denied a diploma solely for failing to pass the state’s standardized exit exam.

A new bridge program between the University of New Orleans and Delgado Community College should help more students enroll in college and finish their degrees by making it easier for UNO applicants to complete initial coursework at Delgado (if necessary) and easier for UNO students to earn an associate degree at Delgado if they don’t complete their bachelor’s at UNO.

BESE member Kira Orange Jones has been promoted to a new position at Teach for America. She will be leaving her position as executive director for TFA New Orleans to supervise a cohort of TFA executive directors across the Midwest and the South.

Children of Katrina 11 Years Later

The number of children in New Orleans, particularly African-American girls and boys, has fallen steadily since Hurricane Katrina, according to a recent study from the Newcomb College Institute. Boys and young men under age 20 made up 31 percent of the African-American male population in 2014, down from 39 percent in 2000. Similarly, girls and young women under age 20 accounted for 26 percent of the African-American female population, down from 33 percent in 2000.

In this video from Huffington Post, students from Edna Karr High School reflect on Hurricane Katrina and share how their charter school has given them hope and helped them to succeed.