ICYMI: Return of Schools is Getting Close

Return of Schools is Close

State control over New Orleans schools could be coming to an end. A bill proposed by Sen. Karen Carter-Peterson would move all New Orleans RSD schools back to OPSB by 2018. There are some key sticking points for stakeholders, but this is the closest education officials and charter advocates have come to giving their blessing to a return plan.
State tuned – Educate Now! will be discussing this legislation in more detail later this week.

Differentiated Funding Lawsuit Update

Former state superintendent Paul Pastorek has filed his first case as an education attorney – intervening in Lusher and Lake Forest’s lawsuit against OPSB on behalf of four families with disabled students. The plaintiffs (Lusher and Lake Forest) are suing to block the new funding formula; these families are countering that the current public school funding is discriminatory.

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ICYMI: A Time of Controversy

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

School Funding Formula for the City

By a 10-1 vote (with one abstention), the Act 467 Committee, comprised of local Orleans Parish educators and community members, voted in favor a new funding formula for all RSD and OPSB public schools. These local weights will be submitted to BESE for consideration at their March 3rd and 4th meetings.

As discussed in Educate Now!’s February 17 email, this Orleans-specific formula will allocate money to every RSD and OPSB student based upon certain local weights, and this money follows the student to the school where that student enrolls. These local weights provide extra money for students with special needs, overage students, English language learners, high school students and gifted and talented (G & T) students. The heaviest weight is for students with special needs, so schools that enroll low numbers of special needs students are likely to see less money under this new formula.

To protect schools from a significant drop in funding, the Committee proposed that in addition to the local weights, the formula will include a “phase in” clause, such that no school’s average MFP per pupil will fall below 98% of its 10/1/15 MFP average per pupil. There are an estimated 14 schools that would need phase in support of varying amounts, but no school will see a reduction greater than $185/student.

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Facts about new funding formula

Educate Now! has received a lot of questions concerning information that Lusher and Franklin sent to their parents about the differentiated funding formula Orleans is working on, which will go before BESE in March. Unfortunately, the email circulated by the schools contains incomplete and wrong information.

The committee developing this funding formula, which includes OPSB schools, RSD schools, OPSB leadership, and RSD leadership, anticipates that the formula will include a clause such that no school loses more than a 2%. For Lusher, that 2% translates to a maximum reduction of $170/student, or around $291,000 not $1,200,000, as was stated in the email. For Franklin, the loss of revenues based on current student count is $155,000. 

ICYMI: Catching Up After Catching Beads

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

State Budget Deficit

There is now a projected budget deficit of $870 million for this fiscal year (which ends June 30). Gov. John Bel Edwards is proposing more taxes, and he has vowed to protect school funding; Republicans want to use cuts to cover as much of the deficit as possible. Louisiana’s constitution would allow the MFP to be cut 1% this fiscal year. Stay tuned.

Local Headlines

After Landry-Walker’s amazing increase in its 2013-14 test scores, the Algiers Charter School Association (ACSA) conducted a 16-month internal investigation of Landry-Walker and found substantial evidence that staff violated testing procedures. In 2015, after implementing extremely strict testing protocols, Landry-Walker’s test scores fell significantly. The Department of Education also flagged the results in November of 2014, asking the state inspector general’s office to conduct an official investigation.
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ICYMI – Wanted: Everyday Heroes

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

Looking for Everyday Heroes

NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune is profiling everyday heroes who fill the New Orleans area with hope. If you know someone who is trying to create a better future for metro New Orleans – one school, one church, one neighborhood, one cause at a time – nominate them using this online form, or by emailing heroes@nola.com, or by sending a letter to Future of New Orleans, c/o NOLA Media Group, One Canal Place, 365 Canal Street, Suite 3100, New Orleans LA 70130.

Time to Talk about Career-Tech

Shane Haggerty of the Tolles Career & Technical Center says it’s time we talk about career-tech. The emphasis on a traditional four-year college pathway has led to a disconnect between education and opportunity, and too many college graduates are struggling financially because they were never given all the educational pathway options in high school.
 
In Louisiana, four students who are pursuing the state’s revamped career education path say the courses are making a difference and changing lives.

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ICYMI: Edwards names his 3 BESE appointees

Three New BESE Members Appointed

Governor-elect John Bel Edwards has chosen his three appointees to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education: Doris Voitier, superintendent of St. Bernard Parish schools; Thomas Roque, superintendent of the Diocese of Alexandria; and Lurie Thomason, assistant professor in the Criminal Justice Department at Grambling State University. While Governor-elect Edwards may have wanted a new state superintendent, he does not have the votes to replace John White, and his three BESE appointees said in an interview they would be “open” to working with White.

Many people are wondering if Edwards plans to rollback public school reforms, with others noting that New Orleans is both the biggest democratic stronghold in the state and a strong supporter of charter schools.

Other Louisiana Headlines

A new report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shows Black students both nationally and in Louisianacontinue to rank behind their peers on education tests and notes that “African-American students are disproportionately impacted by the shortcomings in our education system.”
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Reflecting on 2015

Looking Back: 2015

2015 was a pivotal year for public education in New Orleans. In retrospect, it will mark a turning point in creating a more united system of public schools and blurring the difference between OPSB and RSD schools in New Orleans.

Unifying our system of schools

In 2015, OPSB and the state addressed some core issues that had created schisms. Resolving these issues will create a more stable, equitable, and shared foundation for the city’s system of schools going forward.

OPSB turns a new page

In January 2015, Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) finally selected a superintendent, Dr. Henderson Lewis. In March, Ira Thomas resigned from OPSB and subsequently pled guilty to taking bribes. With Thomas’ departure and a new superintendent, the OPSB quit fighting and supported Dr. Lewis’ efforts to reorganize its central office to better oversee a system of autonomous charter schools.

OPSB adopts key policies
  • OneApp and Transportation: OPSB passed policy HA, which created clear and consistent policies for all OPSB charters, including the requirement that all OPSB charters participate in OneApp (as their charters renew) and provide transportation.
  • Fund balance (reserves): OPSB made another, equally important policy change that received a lot less attention. It limited how it can spend its fund balance going forward, restricting more than 90% of the current fund balance ($45 million+) to emergencies and other “unforeseen, exceptional circumstances” and for the needs of the system as a whole (all public schools in Orleans Parish).

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ICYMI: In the News

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

What’s Next for Education in Louisiana?

John Bel Edwards is skeptical of Common Core, charter schools, and vouchers and has the support of many who want to see changes in Louisiana’s education policy. But U.S. News and World Report says the election of Edwards doesn’t doom school choice in Louisiana because charters and vouchers have engendered deep buy-in from parents and created unique coalitions.

A recent national report applauds Louisiana for its teacher evaluation system because it uses teacher ratings to recognize and encourage effective instruction as well as prepare and value highly effective teachers. Locally, the evaluation system has been criticized for negatively affecting teacher performance and morale. Editor’s note: Expect John Bel Edwards to include changes in teacher evaluation and VAM as part of his legislative agenda.

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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.
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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.
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