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

Tuesday, March 10, 2015, 12:57 pm

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.

Read More »

ICYMI: Common Core Heating Up

Wednesday, March 4, 2015, 11:07 pm

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.

Read More »

ICYMI: Expulsions drop 39% in RSD

Thursday, February 19, 2015, 11:39 pm

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.

Read More »

By the Numbers: High School Performance 2005 vs. 2014

Monday, February 9, 2015, 11:03 am

The state just released the 2014 ACT scores for public schools. Continuing our By the Numbers series, Educate Now! takes a look at high school performance.

ACT Performance

New Orleans has seen strong gains since 2005.

The growth in ACT scores comes even as the percentage of seniors taking the test has increased significantly. (The state now requires students to take the ACT as part of high school accountability; in 2005, students were not required to take the ACT.)

Since 2005, as the percentage of seniors taking the ACT increased, New Orleans improved its composite score1 from 17 to 18.4, while the state declined from 19.8 to 19.2.

Both RSD and OPSB have seen gains in their ACT scores2.

  • During this time (2005 to 2014), the RSD improved its ACT average by 2 points, more than any other district in the state. It is one of only 5 districts that improved more than 1 point during this time.
  • OPSB improved by 0.8 points.
ACT Scores Over Time
Class of 2005 Class of
19.7 20.5 0.8
Schools transferred to RSD
14.4 16.4 2
New Orleans (OPSB + RSD)
17 18.4 1.4
19.8 19.2 – 0.6
If comparing performance, RSD schools serve a very different population than OPSB, with more African American students, more poor students, and more students with special needs. Some OPSB high schools have selective admissions, and only three of seven OPSB high schools participate in EnrollNOLA (OneApp). RSD data includes the alternative high schools in the city, and every RSD high school is open-admissions and participates in EnrollNOLA.

Read More »

In case you missed it …

Sunday, February 1, 2015, 11:23 pm

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.

Read More »

New Orleans by the Numbers: Public School Enrollment

Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 9:55 pm

Educate Now! looks at the public school student enrollment over the past ten years – from October 1, 2004 (the last data before Katrina) to this school year.

The Highlights

Schools are serving a more ethnically diverse student population.

Enrollment Citywide

A higher percentage of students are economically disadvantaged*.


Read More »

OPSB Selects Superintendent

Wednesday, January 21, 2015, 12:04 am

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.

Read More »

In case you missed it …

Monday, January 12, 2015, 7:32 pm

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.

Read More »

In case you missed it …

Sunday, January 4, 2015, 8:56 pm

ICYMI … Your mini news clippings

  • Thrillist website named metro New Orleans the #1 food city in America, and travel publication Rough Guides named New Orleans the #3 destination in the world, beginning with a Bob Dylan quote, “There are a lot of places I like, but I like New Orleans better.” Educate Now! agrees.
  • The state is recommending BESE not renew Wilson’s charter. Wilson’s board is fighting back, arguing they would have received a “D” if the state had not changed the way it calculates School Performance Scores midway through the year.

Read More »

Charter Schools Help Improve Special Education in New Orleans

Sunday, December 28, 2014, 7:32 pm

This guest editorial appeared in the Times-Picayune, and I wanted to share it with you.

Charter Schools Help Improve Special Education in New Orleans: Leslie Jacobs

In fourth grade, James, a special needs student at John Dibert Charter School, was struggling academically and behaviorally. He was making daily trips to the dean’s office for disruptive behavior and emotional outbursts. James is now on honor roll in eighth grade, scored mastery and advanced on state tests and is applying to Ben Franklin High School.

Zaria transferred to Arthur Ashe Charter School at the beginning of second grade as a special education student, reading at kindergarten level. By the end of fourth grade she scored mastery in English.

Zaria and James are two of the many students who have benefited from the city’s improvement in serving students with special needs.

Read More »