In the News: A Clipping Service – August 29, 2011

In this edition of In the News:

  • Debating Reforms
  • Louisiana News
  • National Education Stories
  • ACT Scores Rising Slowly
  • Miller-McCoy in the Spotlight
  • Other Local News

Debating Reforms

The School Reform Deniers
Reuters – August 21, 2011
After years of studying the school reform debate, Steven Brill has published a new book, Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools. In this column, Brill summarizes his findings and takes on the reform deniers, who use the tactic of repeating things that are plainly untrue enough times so they start to seem true, or at least become part of the debate. Brill outlines a set of facts and simple questions with obvious answers that should guide America’s school reform efforts.

Finding America’s Narrative
The Huffington Post – August 16, 2011
Sarah Carr looks at the importance of narratives (or how a story is told), and uses the education debate in New Orleans as an example.

Learning the Hard Way
The Wall Street Journal – August 20, 2011
Joel Klein discusses the two camps of the education reform debate: the traditionalists and the reformers. He also reviews two in depth studies of this debate: “Class Warfare” by Steven Brill and “Special Interest” by Terry M. Moe.

Louisiana News

School Reform Advocate Kira Orange Jones is Running for State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
The Times-Picayune – August 20, 2011
Kira Orange Jones, Executive Director of Teach For America in New Orleans, has decided to run for a seat on the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Jones will challenge incumbent Louella Givens, a vocal critic of the RSD and a consistent vote against charter schools. It’s likely to be a closely watched campaign and a major test of public support for the reform movement that has reshaped New Orleans public schools.

Department Highlights Louisiana’s Rigorous and Multi-faceted Testing Program
Louisiana Department of Education – August 18, 2011
In light of recent testing scandals in Atlanta and other parts of the country, Louisiana’s Department of Education prepared a report on the state’s test security policies, which include monitoring visits to testing sites and erasure analyses of test results. They also provided information on the number and frequency of testing irregularities found in the past. In 2011, 1,533,000 tests were administered in Louisiana; 557 (or .04%) were voided due to irregularities.

Study: South Has “Middle-Skills” Worker Shortage
CityBusiness – August 21, 2011
Fifty-one percent of all jobs in the South fall into the “middle-skills” category, requiring some education and training beyond high school but less than a four-year degree. Unfortunately, right now the South has a shortage of workers to fill these middle-skills jobs.

Pre-Kindergarten Programs Under Microscope
Houston Chronicle – August 21, 2011
According to state officials, Louisiana spends nearly $350 million a year on a variety of pre-K programs but lacks a coherent approach to success. Today, one in three public school kindergarten students fails to reach the fourth grade on time.

National Education Stories

Poll: Americans Trust Teachers, Split on Teachers’ Unions
Education Week – August 17, 2011
Teachers, if you feel unappreciated, take heart. A recent survey to gauge perception of public schools shows that 71% of adults value their children’s teachers. Meanwhile, 47% of respondents feel that unionization of teachers has hurt “the quality of public education in the United States” compared with 26% who say it has helped.

Census: Parents Reading More With Their Children
Education Week – August 19, 2011
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent Survey of Income and Program Participation show today’s parents – especially low-income parents – are more involved with their young children than they were a decade ago, reading, playing and eating dinner together more.

NYC Program Means Real Public School Choice for Students
Education Week – August 19, 2011
New York City’s high school choice program has created a more vibrant public school marketplace than anywhere else in the country. This year 98% of rising 9th graders (some 79,000 of them) are going to a high school they selected from more 650 options, with most students getting one of their top five choices. NYC uses a computer program to determine the match, eliminating waiting lists and opportunities for favoritism.

ACT Scores Rising Slowly

ACT Deems More Students College-Ready
Education Week – August 17, 2011
The annual report on ACT test results shows that the number of students in the U.S. who met all four of the ACT’s college-readiness benchmarks continued to rise in 2011. The ACT’s benchmarks correlate with higher chances of earning B’s or C’s in entry-level college courses.

Department Releases District-Level ACT Results
Louisiana Department of Education – August 24, 2011
The state has posted district-level ACT test results showing composite scores for all Louisiana districts, and 41 out of 71 districts saw gains in ACT test scores. The RSD in New Orleans was among the top 4 districts for ACT gains. For more on ACT results read this article in The Times-Picayune.

Miller-McCoy in the Spotlight

New Orleans Charter Testing Drama Casts Light on How Cheating Allegations are Handled
The Times-Picayune – August 19, 2011
Two years ago, accusations of cheating on standardized tests led to an RSD investigation of Miller-McCoy Academy in eastern New Orleans. Although no proof of cheating was ever found, the RSD did conclude that some kind of cheating likely occurred.

Investigate Cheating Claims in Charter School: An Editorial
The Times-Picayune – August 26, 2011
In this editorial, The Times-Picayune says that the incident at Miller-McCoy raises serious questions about how allegations of cheating at charter schools should be handled in the future.

Other Local News

RSD Concludes 100-day Strategy; Superintendent Presents New Executive Team
Louisiana Department of Education – August 24 2011
The RSD has spent the past 100 days developing its strategic plan for the next three years. Superintendent White recently announced that the plan, called What Will It Take, is complete. He also announced the appointment of five new deputy superintendents along with other top district officials. For more information on White’s leadership team, read this article in The Times-Picayune.

Recovery School District Officials Hope to Earn Parents’ Trust in Meetings on Schools’ Futures
The Times-Picayune – August 15, 2011
The Recovery School District will hold a series of public meetings at schools that are still failing to meet state academic benchmarks. The goal is to bring parents and community members on board much earlier as they map out how to turn around schools that are still struggling.

Master Plan Review Reveals Spending Discrepancies for Repairing, Replacing Schools
CityBusiness – August 18, 2011
Critics of the latest version of the School Facilities Master Plan say too much of the remaining $2 billion from FEMA is being spent on massive, new, high-tech buildings (that will be prohibitive to maintain) and not enough on repairs to existing schools.

What Gets Inspected Gets Done: A Guest Column by Brian Beabout
The Times-Picayune – August 20, 2011
This op ed looks at school accountability and concludes Louisiana needs to come up with better ways to hold schools accountable for results that aren’t on any test. Superintendent John White is congratulated for looking for new ways to monitor schools, especially independent charters.

Ousted New Orleans Principals Sue the Recovery School District
The Times-Picayune – August 25, 2011
Three elementary school principals are suing the Recovery School District claiming that the RSD did not follow due process laws when firing them.

NOMA Screens Post-Katrina Education Documentary ‘The Experiment’
The Times-Picayune – August 20, 2011
A new film called “The Experiment” follows five families trying to navigate the complex education landscape in New Orleans since Katrina.