In the News: January 28, 2014

Tuesday, January 28, 2014, 7:44 pm

New President for OPSB

Q & A: Nolan Marshall Jr. says he aims to build consensus as OPSB president
The Lens – January 21, 2014
Nolan Marshall, Jr. has been elected the new president of OPSB. Marshall says he wants to build consensus on the board rather than oversee conflict, and he wants to keep reaching out to charter schools in the hope of bringing them back to local control. Marshall also says he believes in promoting policies that encourage contracting with disadvantaged businesses, and he supports reducing the number of elected school board members and adding people appointed by the mayor and the governor to the board. Reaction to Marshall’s election has been generally positive, with most hoping that Marshall will continue to be a voice of reason who will help smooth disagreements on a polarized board. For more on Marshall’s election, read this article in the Times-Picayune.

MFP Lawsuit: Is it time to pay attention?

Baton Rouge judge denies class action status for St. John School Board suit against state
Times-Picayune – January 27, 2014
A lawsuit filed against the state of Louisiana argues that because the public school funding formula, the MFP, was not correctly approved by the legislature for three years, the state should revert to a prior formula, which included an annual 2.75% increase in funding to cover inflation. If the suit is successful, the state could owe districts three years of retroactive MFP, or close to $200 million. The plaintiffs were seeking class action status, and 44 of Louisiana’s 69 districts had voted to opt in, but a District Court judge ruled against class action status. He said it would have forced all districts and other LEAs (e.g., charters) to opt in, whether they wanted to or not. Editor’s note: Now that it won’t be a class action lawsuit, Educate Now! urges any charter that is its own LEA to determine whether it has to be a plaintiff in order to benefit if the litigation is successful.

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Court Rules in Favor of Teachers Fired After Katrina

Sunday, January 26, 2014, 7:16 pm

What does it mean for New Orleans schools?

The appellate court recently issued a unanimous ruling in favor of the 7,000 OPSB employees (teachers and support workers) who were terminated in the aftermath of Katrina (Oliver vs. OPSB). Educate Now! has received lots of questions regarding the ruling and its impact on the continuing operation of schools, especially since the media has implied that the judgment could bankrupt the school system. Here is what we know.

What did the ruling say? 

  • The appeal court ruled that while the Orleans Parish School Board had the right to execute a reduction in force after Katrina, it failed to create a recall list based on seniority by position – violating its policy and depriving employees of their constitutionally protected property right to be recalled as schools reopened. The court awarded two years of lost wages and benefits, offset by unemployment compensation and other earnings received by the terminated employees during the time in question.

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In the News – January 12, 2013

Sunday, January 12, 2014, 11:16 pm

A City of Possibility

GOOD Magazine names New Orleans one of its Top 20 Cities of Possibility
Times-Picayune – January 7, 2014
GOOD Magazine named New Orleans one of its Top 20 “Cities of Possibility.” GOOD measured “possibility” using criteria such as transportation, diversity, work/life balance, green space, and civic engagement. Atlanta was the only other American city chosen.

Top Education Stories from 2013

The Times-Picayune reviewed the top education stories of 2013. Here are the highlights.

Top 5 New Orleans Stories

  • Percent of students in failing schools drops below 6%.
  • Charter enrollment now tops 90%.
  • OPSB’s behavior undermines its credibility, and no charters vote to return to local control.
  • Serving special needs students is still a challenge, but centralized expulsion system improves transparency and fairness.
  • Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux gets involved.

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New Orleans is Over 90% Charter

Sunday, December 29, 2013, 1:48 pm

Educate Now! has reviewed the most recent enrollment data from the state. As of October 1:

  • 91% of New Orleans students are in charter schools.
  • Enrollment keeps increasing by around 1,500 students per year.
  • New Orleans schools have grown more diverse since Katrina.

New Orleans Enrollment Over Time

October 1

(all students)*
2004-05 2009-10 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14
TOTAL 66372 38051 42030 43540 44950
Charter 1.5% 61.4% 77.5% 83.9% 91.0%
Direct-Run 98.5% 38.6% 22.5% 16.1% 9.0%
White 3.6% 5.4% 7.9% 6.7% 6.9%
Black 93.2% 90.0% 86.3% 87.3% 86.1%
Other 3.2% 4.6% 5.8% 5.9% 7.0%

*2013-14 does not include 0-3 enrollment or NOCCA (which dropped below 50% N.O. enrollment) but does include Milestone SABIS (with over 50% N.O. enrollment).

According to a recent market share report, New Orleans has the nation’s highest percentage of public school students in charters. In 2012-13, Detroit was second with 51% percent in charters, and Washington, D.C. was third with 43%.

Also, when the Recovery School District closes its last four direct-run schools at the end of this school year, it will become the nation’s first all-charter district.

UPDATE: This post has been updated to reflect corrected state data that increased charter enrollment from 90.2% to to 91%.

In the News: December 29, 2013

Sunday, December 29, 2013, 1:36 pm

What’s Next for New Orleans?

New Orleans will have an all-charter school district next year
The Advocate – December 24, 2013
When the Recovery School District closes its last four direct-run schools at the end of this school year, it will become the nation’s first all-charter district. A.P. Tureaud and Benjamin Banneker are scheduled to be closed in June, and RSD’s last two direct-run high schools, Sarah T. Reed and George Washington Carver, will be phased out one year earlier than planed. The remaining schools – close to 60 – will all be run by independent nonprofits with their own boards.

New Orleans and the Road to Educational Equity
New Schools for New Orleans – December 20, 2013
Neerav Kingsland of NSNO says the charter school system in New Orleans has made real strides toward achieving educational equity. OneApp gives families fair and transparent access to nearly all public schools, and the centralized expulsion system ensures that access cannot be arbitrarily reversed once a student enrolls. In 2014-15, new weighted funding formulas in the RSD will help to cover additional costs related to serving special needs students, and NSNO is working with charters to develop high-quality settings that can meet the needs of our most at-risk students.

The permanent, dwindling Recovery School District
Times-Picayune – December 16, 2013
It’s been eight years since the state took over all but 17 of New Orleans’ public schools, raising the question of whether the Recovery School District has become a permanent part of the city’s educational landscape. The 17 charter schools eligible to switch to OPSB control this year all voted not to return. Their reasons included the lack of a permanent OPSB superintendent, recent board behavior at public meetings, questions about special education funding, and the uncertainty that comes with a locally elected board.

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Voucher Performance Lacking

Monday, December 9, 2013, 2:41 pm

At least 45% of students in Louisiana’s voucher program last year attended D or F schools, according to the state.

The state released scores for 22 of the 118 schools participating, and last year these schools enrolled 2,888 of the nearly 5,000 voucher students. The other schools had too few students at testing grades for scores to be released.

Of the 22 voucher schools receiving a score, more than half (13) were in the F range.

  • Seven of the F rated voucher schools are in New Orleans, and together these seven schools enrolled more than 1,000 students in 2012-13.
  • Of the more than 50 K-8 public schools in Orleans Parish, only 3 received an F.

Educate Now! urges parents to really explore all of their choices. The public schools in New Orleans offer some excellent (and better performing) options.

For more on voucher performance, download the state’s annual voucher report and read this article in the Times-Picayune.

In the News: December 8, 2013

Monday, December 9, 2013, 2:38 pm

Transitioning to Common Core

BESE backs changes to ease Common Core transition
The Advocate – December 5, 2013
BESE approved the changes to accountability recommended by Superintendent White to soften the impact of moving to the Common Core and PARCC testing. For 2014 and 2015, schools will be graded on a curve, with the same percentage of schools receiving an A, B, C, D, and F as did in 2013; fourth and eighth graders will be given more leeway to advance to the next grade if they do not pass the tests; and there will be a two-year moratorium on using value-added data in teacher evaluations.

BESE tweaks school grading policy
The Advocate – December 5, 2013
BESE made one adjustment to its plan to grade schools on a curve in 2014 and 2015. They added a safeguard to protect any school that has the same or better School Performance Score as 2013 from the unlikely event they would be dropped a grade due to the curve.

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In the News: November 25, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013, 1:01 pm

Best in the World

National Geographic names New Orleans one of 20 top travel destinations in the world
Times-Picayune – November 22, 2013
National Geographic Traveler magazine named New Orleans one of its 20 most recommended places to visit in the world for 2014. Only one other location in the United States, Rocky Mountain National Park, made the list. The magazine said the list reflects “what’s authentic, culturally rich, sustainable and superlative in the world of travel today.” New Orleans was praised not just for its history but also for the revitalization of its local neighborhoods.

Consultant to OPSB: Clean Up Your Act

Orleans Parish School Board must clean up its act to find a good leader, consultant says
Times-Picayune – November 19, 2013
The firm hired by OPSB to find the next School Superintendent said OPSB needs to address some serious issues – micromanagement, bickering, focus on non-classroom matters, and the lack of a cohesive strategic plan – before it interviews a single candidate. Lead consultant Bill Attea told OPSB otherwise, “you’re not going to hire the type of candidate you need.” Attea also said there was general agreement in the community that the school board’s dysfunction is keeping RSD schools from choosing to return to local control. Read the full report.

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In the News: November 17, 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013, 7:03 pm

Educating City Hall

At a recent City Council budget hearing, Mayor Landrieu’s budget director, Cary Grant, suggested that the council consider repurposing school board millages (property taxes) to pay for other city services. He said that the school board has “a huge fund balance” because their 44 mills pay for only 33 schools now, down from 120 schools before Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Grant is wrong.

  • These taxes fund students at all New Orleans public schools, not just OPSB schools. That’s 87 public schools educating 45,000 students.
  • These funds (98%) go directly to the public schools for their operations. They do not go to increase OPSB’s fund balance.
  • Public schools in New Orleans are funded below the state average. They receive an average of $9,200 per student in state and local money; the state average is $9,500.
  • Repurposing the millage would take money away from schools, and our schools do NOT need a cut in funding. Investing in our children and providing them opportunity is the best long-term strategy to lower the city’s criminal justice costs!

If you know Cary Grant, or if you know a City Council member, Educate Now! suggests you drop them a note and let them know these funds are very much needed.

NAEP Results Are In

Louisiana students score near bottom on national test
Times-Picayune – November 7, 2013
Students in Louisiana showed slight improvement in reading on the latest NAEP test (National Assessment of Educational Progress) but still rank near the bottom in reading and math when compared to the rest of the United States. Superintendent John White said the results show why Louisiana needs to implement Common Core. “Our own growth, our own progress within Louisiana doesn’t mean as much if we’re not really competitive with our peer states.”

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In the News – November 3, 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013, 10:35 pm

OneApp Begins

OneApp 2014-15 opens Monday to accommodate selective New Orleans schools
Times-Picayune – November 1, 2013
OneApp, the centralized enrollment program for New Orleans, begins Monday for the next school year.

  • Almost all schools in the city (RSD direct- run and charter, Type 2 charters, OPSB direct-run, and some OPSB charters) are participating. Eleven OPSB charter schools are not.
  • OneApp will be accommodating some schools and/or programs with admission standards. These schools have a December 20 deadline.
  • Applications for other schools will not be due until February.
  • This year, families do not need to complete an Intent to Return form. Families only participate in OneApp if their child wants or needs a new school for 2014-15.

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