In the News

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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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.

Funding

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.

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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.

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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.

Highlights
 
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.

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