In the News: A Clipping Service – December 19, 2011

In this edition of In the News:

  • New Orleans is WSJ’s Most Improved City for Business
  • Cowen Institute Releases Two Assessments of Progress
  • Centralized Enrollment System
  • Other Local New Orleans Stories
  • Around Louisiana
  • National Education News
  • New Orleans Think Tank Aims to Reshape Public Education

New Orleans is WSJ’s Most Improved City for Business

WSJ: New Orleans Business – Most Improved in 2011
The Wall Street Journal – December 13, 2011
According to the Wall Street Journal‘s Marketwatch, New Orleans is the most improved metropolitan area for economic competitiveness. The Journal examined 102 metropolitan communities and compared unemployment rates, cost of living and personal income growth. In just two years, New Orleans has moved from dead last to the top third of the class.

Cowen Institute Releases Two Assessments of Progress

K-12 Public Education through the Public Eye: Parents’ Perception of School Choice
This poll of public school parents conducted by Tulane’s Cowen Institute shows that parent perception of public schools in New Orleans is increasingly positive: 74% of public school parents in New Orleans feel schools are getting better, 90% agree it is important to be able to choose which public school their child attends, and 86% believe that information on school options is readily available. Over two-thirds of parents applied to only one school. Parents of students with special needs were more likely to be dissatisfied with the registration process, and parents of children in traditional schools (as opposed to charters) were less satisfied overall. Read more about the survey in this Times-Picayune article.

Transforming Public Education in New Orleans: The Recovery School District 2003-2011
This Cowen Institute report is the most comprehensive on the RSD to date, tracing the history and accomplishments of the RSD from its creation in 2003 to today. The report concludes that while the RSD has accomplished a great deal (the number of students attending a failing school has dropped from 71% pre-Katrina to just 33% in the RSD in 2011), there is still much to be done. Read more about the Cowen report in this Education Week article.

Centralized Enrollment System

Recovery School District Officials Describe New Central Enrollment System
The Times-Picayune – December 8, 2011
Beginning with the 2012-13 school year, the RSD will implement a centralized enrollment system for all RSD schools (direct-run and charter). Parents will fill out one application and will rank their top eight choices for schools; all applications will be processed at the same time; half of the seats in each K-8 school will be set aside for students living in the area; and siblings of current students will get preference at their school of choice.

Lessons in School Choice: What the RSD’s Unified Enrollment System Can Learn from Other Cities
The Cowen Institute – December 6, 2011
Tulane’s Cowen Institute looked at open enrollment systems in four cities and came up with several suggestions for the RSD, which include: provide resources for parents to identify the best school(s) for their children, help them navigate the new system, and have a plan for how best to handle students and families who do not get their first choice of school.

Other Local New Orleans Stories

Orleans Parish School Board Approves $79 Million Bond Sale for New Construction
The Times-Picayune – December 15, 2011
The OPSB voted to issue $79 million in bonds to help finance school construction. While the bonds are, practically speaking, interest free, each public school in the city shares the cost of the bond repayment. RSD Superintendent John White is deeply disappointed that the RSD was not included in the OPSB’s decision-making process when RSD schools will also be responsible for paying back the debt. Editor’s note: The OPSB needs to work with the RSD to clearly identify how these funds will be used for the benefit of RSD schools as well as OPSB schools and to identify a funding source for capital repairs.

Orleans School Board Decision Means Less Tax Revenue for Charter Schools, and They’re Mad
The Times-Picayune – December 11, 2011
The Orleans Parish School Board oversees only 17 schools, but it still sets the local property tax that provides financing for every public school in New Orleans. OPSB’s decision to not “roll forward” its millage meant a loss of close to $5 million of new revenue for schools. Charter advocates were surprised by the Board’s vote and are asking OPSB to reverse their decision when OPSB meets on December 15th. Editor’s note: At the meeting on the 15th, the OPSB did not reconsider rolling forward the millage for the 2012 tax bill. However, they indicated they would consider rolling forward the millage for the 2013 tax bill. If they do, schools will see approximately a $120/student increase in MFP for the 2013-14 school year.

Louisiana Education Board Approves 9 New Charter School Operators for New Orleans
The Times-Picayune – December 7, 2011
The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has approved nine new charter applications, including three new high schools, a new operator for the city’s alternative high school and five new elementary schools. BESE also voted to pull the charters of two failing schools, McDonogh 42 and Sojourner Truth Academy.

New Orleans Charter School Frustrations Reach a Boil
The Times-Picayune – December 6, 2011
Of the 27 charter applications received this year, only 9 were approved by the state. New Orleans-based groups are frustrated that they keep getting turned down in favor of national charter networks that have more resources.

Is There Room for Black Leadership in New Orleans’ Charter School Movement?: Jarvis DeBerry
The Times-Picayune – December 18, 2011
Jarvis DeBerry looks at the disproportionate number of white principals and teachers educating the primarily black population of New Orleans and asks the question, “Is there a way to create a pipeline to bring young black teachers and school leaders to New Orleans.”

Around Louisiana

BESE Approves Teacher Evaluation Standards
The Associated Press – December 6, 2011
A new teacher evaluation system will go into effect in the 2012-13 school year. Under the new value-added system, 50% of a teacher’s score will be based on growth in student performance on standardized tests. The other 50% will continue to be based upon principal evaluations.

Ollie Tyler Leaving State Education Post
Shreveport Times – December 7, 2011
Ollie Tyler, acting superintendent of education for the Louisiana Department of Education, will be leaving the department at the end of January. Tyler has served as interim superintendent of education since Paul Pastorek’s resignation in May.

LEAP Tests Era to End
The Advocate – December 12, 2011
Louisiana is one of 45 states adopting a new curriculum based on “common core standards.” This change in curriculum will also mean a change in Louisiana’s student assessments. Current exams, such as the high-stakes LEAP test, will be phased out.

Education Change Will Test Gov. Bobby Jindal: John Maginnis
The Times-Picayune – December 7, 2011
Jindal has chosen to make education a top priority for his next term. This means his effectiveness as governor will be measured not only by whether he passes his legislative agenda, but also by whether students in Louisiana show academic improvement.

National Education News

Report Shows Dual Enrollment Best When on College Campus
Education Week – December 12, 2011
New research shows that high school students in dual-enrollment classes taken on college campuses are 12% more likely to go to college and 7% more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree. Yet students who took dual-enrollment classes exclusively on a high school campus showed no statistically significant gains.

Charter School Enrollment: Two Million Students and Counting
The Hechinger Report – December 7, 2011
Charter schools now educate more than 2 million students nationwide, up from 1.8 million last year. This represents around 3.5% of the total K-12 student population in the United States.

The ‘Boy Problem’ Examined
Inside Higher Ed – December 6, 2011
An analysis of college graduation data shows a striking and substantial difference between the sexes in educational attainment, with women outpacing men in every demographic group. Interestingly, the largest gap between men and women in completing college is at the highest economic range – families making $85,000 or more per year.

Opinion: How to Rescue Education Reform
New York Times – December 5, 2011
These two education experts disagree on many things, but they do agree that the federal government should limit its role in education to what it does well: encouraging transparency for school performance and spending, ensuring that basic constitutional protections are respected, especially for disadvantaged or vulnerable populations, and supporting basic research.

To Stay Great, Never Forget Your Basics
New York Times – December 17, 2011
Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of the nonprofit Harlem Children’s Zone, offers some excellent insight into managing schools and discusses some of the leadership challenges he has faced over the years.

States Creating New Districts to Steer ‘Turnarounds’
Education Week – December 12, 2011
Education leaders in Michigan and Tennessee are drawing on the experiences of Louisiana’s Recovery School District and building special “turnaround” districts to take over their lowest performing schools.

New Orleans Think Tank Aims to Reshape Public Education

School of Thought
Gambit Weekly – December 13, 2011
A think tank in downtown New Orleans is paying people to come up with new, innovative ideas to transform public education and remake it for the 21st century.