In the News: A Clipping Service – January 4, 2012

In this edition of In the News:

  • Three Wishes for 2012
  • New Orleans Startup Boom
  • Local Education News
  • National Education Stories
  • Louisiana Updates

Educate Now! wishes you and yours a healthy and joyous 2012.

For education reform in New Orleans, Educate Now! has three wishes for 2012.

Wish #1: Academic gains continue at a robust pace.

  • New Orleans continues to improve much faster than the state.
  • The percentage of students performing Basic or above exceeds 60%.
  • New Orleans continues to close the achievement gap.

Wish #2: The new centralized RSD enrollment process goes well.

  • Parents can understand the system.
  • Parents and students continue to overwhelmingly get their first choice of school.
  • Students with special needs have an easier time enrolling in schools.

Wish #3: The Orleans Parish School Board recognizes its role as Resource Manager for the entire system of schools in Orleans Parish. As our Resource Manager, OPSB:

  • Rolls forward the millage to increase money available for schools.
  • Uses the $79 million bond proceeds and the proceeds from the sales of surplus property in a manner that benefits ALL schools and creates a source of funds for capital repairs and maintenance.
  • Quits using the OPSB fund balance (surplus) to subsidize the operations of its 5 schools and 3,000 students and instead creates a set of rules for use of the fund balance that benefits all public schools in the city.

New Orleans Startup Boom

In Katrina’s Wake, New Orleans Enjoys Startup Boom
NPR – December 29, 2011
Pre-Katrina, New Orleans lagged the nation in startups, but today it exceeds the national average by about 30 percent. Organizations like Idea Village, 504ward and the Urban League are all working to see New Orleans keeps growing its intellectual talent.

Local Education News

Four Public School Principals Turned Around Their Failing Schools in New Orleans
Gambit Weekly – January 3, 2011
Four principals are recognized by Gambit for “whole school” turnarounds: Sharon Clark of Sophie B. Wright Charter, Doris Roche Hicks of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter, Mary Laurie of O. Perry Walker, and Rene Lewis-Carter of Martin Behrman Charter. Educate Now! congratulates all four of these remarkable women for doing such an incredible job.

Paul Vallas, Former New Orleans Schools Chief, Takes Job in Connecticut
The Times-Picayune – December 21, 2011
Paul Vallas is the new interim school superintendent in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Although Bridgeport has about half as many students as New Orleans, it still offers plenty of challenges, including an $8 million budget shortfall, a power struggle over who will govern public education in the city, and dismal scores on state exams.

Though Praised by Some, New System for Enrollment in RSD Schools Draws Critics
The Lens – December 20, 2011
The new, centralized enrollment system is intended to bring clarity and to better match families with their preferred schools, but some worry what will happen when there are not enough spaces at the highest performing schools.

Recovery School District Releases Final Decisions on School Sites
The Times-Picayune – December 20, 2011
The Recovery School District released a list of final decisions on where its schools will be housed once the roughly $2 billion school construction push comes to a close.

Orleans Parish School Board Defers Decision on Charter School Applicants
The Times-Picayune – December 20, 2011
Seven groups applied for charter schools through the Orleans Parish School Board, but OPSB has delayed its decision for another month. School Board Superintendent Darryl Kilbert recommends that the board turn down all of them, acting on the advice of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, a national organization that reviews applications.

James Meza Emerges as a Reformist Schools Superintendent in Jefferson Parish
The Times-Picayune – January 3, 2011
James Meza has held many roles: Colonel in the Army National Guard, Acting State Superintendent of Education, Dean of UNO’s College of Education. In his current role as interim superintendent, James Meza, Jr. is taking a new approach to improving schools in Jefferson Parish. He is placing more weight on achievement than seniority in hiring and firing personnel. He is also promoting more autonomy for principals and is an advocate for more charter schools in Jefferson Parish.

National Education Stories

Charter Schools Closure Rate Tops 15 Percent
Center for Education Reform – December 21, 2011
A national analysis of charter school closures finds that historically charter schools have a 15% closure rate, refuting the claim that bad charter schools don’t ever close. There are five primary reasons for charter closures – financial (41.7%), mismanagement (24%), academic (18.6%), district obstacles (6.3%) and facilities (4.6%).

Louisiana Updates

Leaders Hope to Move La from Next-to-last to National Average in College-credit HS Work
Associated Press – December 22, 2011
State education leaders have set a new goal for the number of students passing at least one Advanced Placement exam in high school. By 2017, they hope to move Louisiana from next-to-last nationally to at least the national average (16.9%) for students earning college credit in high school.

Louisiana Wins Race to the Top Education Grant
The Times-Picayune – December 23, 2011
Louisiana won $17.4 million in the latest round of the federal Race to the Top competition. The funds will go toward a new statewide teacher evaluation system, making the transition to common academic standards mandated by the federal government, and to initiatives focused on improving science, technology, engineering and math education. Of Louisiana’s 70 school districts, only 20 opted to participate in the application, including the RSD but not the OPSB.