In the News: A Clipping Service – April 2, 2012

In this edition of In the News:

  • Economic Success of New Orleans
  • Legislative Update
  • What Does the Public Think?
  • Other Louisiana Stories
  • National News
  • Closer to Home

Economic Success of New Orleans

Economic Recession and Recovery in America’s 100 Largest Metropolitan Areas
Brookings Institution – March 2012
Brookings has named Greater New Orleans one of the “20 Strongest Performing Metros” in the nation based on the strength of our economic recovery. Brookings looked at the 100 largest metropolitan areas, and New Orleans’ job growth and gains in economic output placed our city in their top 20. 

A New Orleans for The Future
The Huffington Post – March 23, 2012
A former New Orleanian returns to her hometown as part of NOLABound. She is amazed by the progress made since Katrina and excited that New Orleans has become a model of new business progress and thinking.

Legislative Update

The Governor’s Education package will be heard next week by the Senate. If approved without any new amendments, the bills will go to the Governor for his signature. If the bills are amended, they will need to go back the house for concurrence.

HB 976 Carter – The Choice Bill
The House adopted two key amendments to the Choice Bill. Representative Neil Abramson’s (New Orleans) amendment requires the Department of Education to “develop criteria for participation that includes criteria for participating students at participating schools” by August 1, 2012. It will now be up to Superintendent John White and BESE to develop criteria that, once adopted, cannot be altered except “by an act of the legislature.”

The second key change, offered by Representative Fanin (Jonesboro), gives placement priority to students “who attended or otherwise would be attending a pubic school” with a D or F over students from C schools.

Bobby Jindal-Backed Education Bills Near the Final Bell in Louisiana Legislature
The Times-Picayune – March 29, 2012

Louisiana House OKs Jindal’s Plan for Statewide School Vouchers
Alexandria Town Talk – March 23, 2012

Changes Loom for Charters
The Advocate – April 1, 2012

One issue that is still generating buzz is whether the vouchers are using local as well as state dollars. As the bill currently stands, it is irrelevant to a school district whether the voucher money is technically coming from state and/or local funds – the school district loses the same amount of money.

Louisiana School Voucher Bill Argument Centers on Local Dollars
The Times-Picayune – March 31, 2012

HB 969 Talbot 5
House Bill 969 provides a 100% tax rebate (dollar for dollar) for any donation to certain independent nonprofit groups that would, in turn, grant private-school tuition scholarships to students who live in households at or below 250% of the federal poverty level. (That’s about $56,000 for a family of four.) The student must be entering kindergarten or transferring from a public school. The amount of the scholarship is capped at 80% of the state share of the local district’s MFP funding for K-8 students and 90% for high school students ($3,500-$5,000).

Editor’s note: This bill will likely impact many more private schools as the school is allowed to keep its entrance requirements, charge tuition above the scholarship level, and students do not take the state tests.

House Approves Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Proposal Rewarding Donations for Private School Tuition
The Times-Picayune – March 27, 2012

Other Legislative News

House Passes Gov. Jindal’s Teacher Tenure Changes After Midnight
The Times-Picayune – March 23, 2012

Senate Passes Jindal’s Early Childhood Education Bill
The Times-Picayune – March 21, 2012

What Does the Public Think?

By the Numbers
Public Policy Research Lab – March 2012

    • LSU has released polling results of its 2012 Statewide Survey.
    • 86% of Louisiana residents believe fundamental change or total overhaul is needed to fix public education.
    • Most support performance (58%) over seniority (30%) in determining pay for public school teachers.
    • 78% support funding pre-K for any 4 year old.
    • 70% favor or strongly favor charter schools, while only 48% favor or strongly favor vouchers.
    • Both charters (78%) and vouchers (56%) were more strongly supported in New Orleans than elsewhere in the state.

Other Louisiana Stories

High Poverty, Predominantly African-American Schools in Louisiana
Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools – March 26, 2012
This analysis of Louisiana’s open-enrollment public schools shows charters outperformed traditional, district-run schools and achieved greater academic improvement during the past five years. The study looked at public schools where 85% or more of students were eligible for the federal free lunch program and 90% or more of students were African-American.

Letters: State Superintendent Disappointed in Letters
The Advocate – March 28, 2012
State Superintendent John White is disappointed by recent letters published in The Advocate. He says the letters, written by professional educators, “show a sad belief among some that poverty is destiny in America, defying our core value that any child, no matter race, class or creed, can be the adult he or she dreams of being.”

National News

AT&T Makes $250 Million Pledge to Fund Education Programs
Education Week – March 19, 2012
AT&T is giving $250 million in grants to promote high school graduation and career readiness over the next five years. The company is accepting applications until April 27 to fund programs working to improve high school graduation rates, especially programs that use social innovation to reach underserved populations and those at risk of dropping out. For more information go to the AT&T Aspire Local High School Impact Initiative.

Survey: Teachers Place Little Value on Standardized Tests
Education Week – March 20, 2012
According to a new report published by Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, most teachers do not believe standardized tests have significant value as a measure of student performance. Less than a third of teachers surveyed thought the state-required tests were an important gauge of student achievement or an accurate reflection of what students know.

Tighter Security for SAT, ACT in Wake of Cheating
Associated Press – March 27, 2012
To help prevent cheating on the SAT and ACT this year, each student will be required to submit a photo of themselves in advance of the test. That photo will then be matched to the ID presented on test day and will also be attached to a copy of the test results sent to the student’s school.

Parents: The Missing Engine Behind School Reform
New America Media – March 26, 2012
A series of forums brought education reformers and community media representatives together in Atlanta, Memphis, Miami and New Orleans. The consensus: improving public education is a civil rights issue, but parents must become fully involved and the media must help to engage them. Neerav Kingsland from New Schools for New Orleans and Dr. Andre Perry from Loyola participated in the forum.

Closer to Home

Rebuilding John McDonogh Senior High School
MSNBC – March 27, 2012
Digger Phelps appeared with Superintendent John White on MSNBC’s Morning Joe as the state announced a $35 million commitment to renovating John McDonogh Senior High School and turning it into one of the great culinary high schools in America.

Algiers Schools Listed to Leave Charter Network Could Remain for Another Year
The Times-Picayune – March 19, 2012
The Orleans Parish School Board announced that the Algiers Charter School Association will continue to manage Alice Harte Elementary and Edna Karr High School for at least one more year to help ease the transition for students, parents and employees. The School Board will begin seeking new operators in the fall, aiming for a transition in 2013-14.

Orleans Parish School Board Takes First Steps Toward Possible Layoffs, Tax Increase
The Times-Picayune – March 20, 2012
Rising costs and uncertain revenues have the Orleans Parish School Board looking at potential layoffs. Additionally, the Board took the first step to roll forward the property millage this year, after being the only taxing body in the city to not roll forward the millage last year. The Recovery School District, the Eastbank Collaborative, the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, Citizens for One New Orleans and Educate Now! all thanked OPSB for revisiting this issue and expressed their support for the roll forward.

New Orleans School Board President Says He’s Fighting Modern Fascism
The Times-Picayune – March 19, 2012
The Times-Picayune profiles School Board President Thomas Robichaux, who believes that public education is not really public unless local voters have a say in who governs it. Robichaux says charter schools in New Orleans should answer to the local board, not a state board that meets most of the time in Baton Rouge.

From Leading Students to Leading Teachers: Group Works to Make Schools Better
The Times-Picayune – April 1, 2012
Leading Educators, a new national nonprofit based in New Orleans, is training teachers to take on more responsibility within their schools. The goal is to move more teachers into leadership positions, creating diverse career paths for teachers so that more young teachers will remain in education long term.