In the News

New Orleans Celebrates Our Graduates

Friday was Senior Shout Out Day for all New Orleans public high schools to celebrate our 2,500 Seniors, 300 Colleges and $75 million in scholarships.

senior shout out 2015It was a truly inspiring day with graduates from every public high school in attendance.

Educate Now! congratulates and thanks the educators who impacted and helped shape these young people. Thank you for what you do every day.

I urge you to read Danielle Dreilinger’s story on the event: They’re off to College, and New Orleans Celebrates as well as this story from NBC News.

Educate Now! also thanks the City Council for recognizing our graduates.

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ICYMI: More N.O. families trying to get children into public schools

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

More New Orleans families are trying to get their child into public school. Almost 4,000 new students applied through OneApp during its main round, a 22% increase from last year. Two thirds of families’ choices were outside their neighborhood zone. The second round of OneApp has already begun for families who do not have a spot for their child in the fall or who are unhappy with the results of the main round.

At a recent BGR breakfast, new Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. promised to restore trust in the Orleans Parish School Board by cutting staff in the school system’s central office, improving employee ethics, and cleaning up contracts. He also stated the district needs to adopt a portfolio management structure. Visit the BGR website to listen to his remarks

Legislative Session

One group of Common Core supporters distributed pink and white stuffed unicorns to state lawmakers to make the point that many of the criticisms they’ve heard about Common Core are no more real than unicorns. Visit their website for more on the myths about Common Core.

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Personalized Learning is Gaining Traction in New Orleans

Sharing a commitment to ensuring all New Orleans students have a competitive edge in an innovation-based economy, New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) and Educate Now! recently announced grants totaling $1.5 million to implement new, school-wide personalized learning programs in New Orleans public schools. Funding for these grants comes from both national and local sources, showing a broad base of support for personalized learning in New Orleans.

Personalized learning initiatives tailor instruction to the individual needs, skills, and interests of students using technology, robust data, and rigorous planning. This education model gives teachers and schools the opportunity to accelerate student learning and skill mastery, particularly for struggling students. Akili Academy, KIPP McDonogh 15 Middle School, and New Orleans Charter Science & Mathematics High School (Sci High) will each receive $300,000 to create a more student-centric instruction approach beginning in the fall of 2015. An additional set of schools received grants to support exploration and piloting of personalized strategies.

The grants are being funded by the Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC), the Booth-Bricker Fund, Baptist Community Ministries, and Educate Now! They are part of a broader plan by NSNO and Educate Now! to increase the use of personalized learning in schools across the city.

For more information on these grants and other personalized learning initiatives from NSNO and Educate Now!, click here.

NSNO and Educate Now! anticipate releasing another round of grants for personalized learning in the 2015-16 school year.

ICYMI: The Atlantic looks at the Lost Children of Katrina

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

The Atlantic looks at the Lost Children of Katrina – the New Orleans children who spent years after Katrina in a nomadic exile that severely disrupted their education.

In response to the latest CREDO study, Fortune Magazine says urban charter schools are succeeding – so get out of their way. In cities where charters are achieving significant gains, enrollment opportunities should be expanded so more kids can take advantage of them.

Common Core is unpopular in Louisiana when you call it Common Core Academic Standards, an LSU survey finds, but 67% of citizens and 71% of Republicans support the concept when it is just referred to as “academic standards.”

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News Alert: OPSB seeking interim to fill Ira Thomas’ seat

The Orleans Parish School Board is seeking an interim replacement for board member Ira Thomas.
Thomas resigned Friday, March 6 upon being charged with taking a bribe.

The school board has 10 business days to find a replacement to fill Thomas’ seat until a Special Election is called. They are hoping to appoint a qualified person at their March 17 meeting, but if they can’t agree on a candidate, Governor Bobby Jindal must appoint someone.

OPSB has put out a call for candidates. Anyone interested must hand deliver a Letter of Interest to the OPSB office by noon on Thursday, March 12. Candidates must be at least 18 years old, a resident of Louisiana for the last two years and of District 1 for the last year.

OPSB is hoping to get someone well-versed on school matters who “can just jump on board.” This is important since the school board is in the middle of negotiating a contract with its new superintendent, Henderson Lewis Jr.

To apply:

Letters of Interest should be addressed to Board President Seth Bloom and hand delivered to the OPSB Board Office, 3520 General de Gaulle Drive, Suite 5055, New Orleans by noon on Thursday, March 12, 2015.

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ICYMI: Common Core Heating Up

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

Common Core Heats Up:

  • Students take the tests in March, and we will see how many parents opt out.
  • BESE meets tomorrow to discuss a common core compromise, including reviewing the standards, freezing school letter grades, and delaying use of test results in teacher value-added evaluations for another year.
  • Governor Jindal unveiled his budget, which would decimate funds for key tests. If Louisiana does not have English and math tests in grades 3-8, it risks losing more than $500 million in federal aid. And, the renewal of the federal NCLB legislation does not offer a way out. Every version so far keeps the testing requirement.
  • Scott Angel (R), David Vitter (R), and John Bel Edwards (D) have all come out against common core, calling for Louisiana standards and for Louisiana to not participate in the PARCC test. Jay Dardenne (R) supports the common core standards and comparing our students’ performance to those from across the country.

New Orleans in the News:

A delegation from Georgia, including Governor Nathan Deal, visited New Orleans last weekto hear about lessons learned as Georgia works on its Opportunity School District, modeled after the RSD.

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ICYMI: Expulsions drop 39% in RSD

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

Fewer students are being expelled from New Orleans public schools. RSD schools saw a 39% decrease in the first half of 2014-15 compared to the same time last year, and the citywide average is down 21%. Educate Now! agrees with the Times-Picayune that this news is encouraging. To download expulsion rates by school, click here.

Georgia’s governor, Nathan Deal, wants voters to create a state-run district to take over struggling schools. The idea is modeled after Louisiana’s RSD and is a drastic departure from Georgia’s current, more passive approach to failing schools.

An overhaul of No Child Left Behind cleared the U.S. House Education Committee along party lines. The committee approved major revisions, including how title funds would be allocated.

This is why Common Core matters. At all levels, including the top 10% of students, the United States trails other industrialized nations in the skills needed to compete in the global labor market.

Governor Jindal proposed a series of education reforms at a D.C. breakfast as part of his 2016 presidential preparations. Many were an extension of the New Orleans experience, including expanding charters, removing caps on the number of charter schools allowed, and giving principals a more active role in their schools’ direction.

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In case you missed it …

ICYMI … Your mini news clippings

Common Core update: Some parents in Lafayette are threatening to boycott the PARCC tests scheduled for March 16-20. Governor Jindal wants BESE to offer these parents an alternative, but that appears highly unlikely.

Henderson Lewis’ selection as superintendent marks a new chapter for the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB). Andre Perry solicits national and local opinions on what Mr. Lewis should do when he becomes OPSB’ s next superintendent. The Times-Picayune is hopeful his selection represents a fresh start. Most illuminating is Danielle Dreilinger’s profile of Mr. Lewis’ diverse background.

In this interview with the Reason Foundation, Superintendent Patrick Dobard discusses the history of the Recovery School District (RSD), how closing failing schools has been difficult but has helped students, and how the RSD, unlike traditional school districts, is able to innovate and respond quickly to changing needs.

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OPSB Selects Superintendent

ICYMI … Your mini news clippings

  • In this letter to the editor, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Juvenile Court Chief Judge Gray and others applaud the One-App’s centralized enrollment process and congratulate the RSD for its efforts to hold schools accountable for serving all students.

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In case you missed it …

ICYMI … Your mini news clippings

  • For an insightful view of the charter school debate, read this Forbes commentary. The author, an economist, cites strong evidence from numerous studies that charters are better at educating poor students and black students than regular public schools. They are not as good for non-urban schools and white students. His main point: if any other public policy showed these types of results, it would be embraced much more readily.

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