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

In this edition of In the News:

We’re Number 1

Brookings Metro Monitor Ranks N.O. #1 in Economic Recovery
Brookings Institution – June 27, 2012
A Brookings Institution report about the United States economic recovery ranks the New Orleans metropolitan area number 1 for overall recovery, number one in employment recovery, and number 2 in output (GDP) recovery for the first quarter of 2012. 

Katrina Comeback Makes New Orleans Fastest-Growing City
Bloomberg – June 27, 2012
A recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that New Orleans grew faster than any other major U.S. city, with a 4.9% population increase from April 2010 to July 2011. This was due in part to people still returning home after Katrina, but Bloomberg also says it was due to growth in the number of middle class jobs and relatively low unemployment.

Louisiana’s Diverse Tech Mecca
Forbes – June 28, 2012
According to Forbes, Louisiana, and New Orleans specifically, has become a film industry leader, entrepreneurial Mecca, and technology hub.

Moving Forward with Common Enrollment

Orleans Parish School Board Approves Resolution Moving Toward Common Enrollment
Times-Picayune – June 19, 2012
The OPSB has made a formal commitment to work with state officials on a common enrollment process for all of the city’s public schools, but there is still some disagreement over how the enrollment systems will be merged and who will initially manage the joint program.

Recovery School District School Assignments Appealed by About 5 Percent of Students
Times-Picayune – June 19, 2012
The RSD processed an estimated 32,000 student applications through its common enrollment process this year. Of those, less than 5% were unhappy enough with their assignment to submit an appeal, and 69% of those who appealed got into one of their top three choices after the district reconsidered their case. For a more detailed look at the numbers, see this article in The Lens.

Voucher Update

Editorial: Mounting Problems Erode Public Confidence in Voucher Program
American Press – June 20, 2012
This editorial from American Press argues that the state’s voucher program not only needs transparency to determine how well private schools are educating students, but also assurances from the Department of Education of the schools’ overall suitability. When taxpayer money is going to fund vouchers, it’s not just about family approval; it’s about whether taxpayer money is being spent wisely.

As Private School Vouchers Expand in New Orleans, Eyes Turn Toward State for Accountability Plan
Times-Picayune – July 1, 2012
Growing concerns about the statewide expansion of the voucher program, and the performance and capacity of some schools applying for the program, mean all eyes are on Superintendent John White. White is in charge of developing accountability standards for the private and parochial schools that will take voucher students.

Accountability Rules Are an Afterthought in Gov. Jindal’s Louisiana: Jarvis DeBerry
Times-Picayune – June 26, 2012
Jarvis DeBerry compares the lack of government oversight of contractors post-Katrina to the lack accountability standards for the state’s new voucher program. DeBerry worries that the voucher program will prove to be just as wasteful as all the misspent FEMA money, especially if some children land at schools that are not prepared to teach them.

Landrieu: BESE Needs to Meet on Public School Voucher Rules
The Advocate – June 30, 2012
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu says any state oversight regulations for voucher schools should undergo a public review, and BESE should hold a special meeting in July to encourage public feedback and support. Landrieu also believes that private and parochial schools that take voucher students should receive letter grades from the state, and she favors “serious consequences” for non-public schools that under serve voucher students.

Demand for Vouchers Exceeds Availability
WVLA – June 30, 2012
Approximately 7,800 applications have been submitted for the new statewide voucher program, but only 5,100 spots are available at participating schools. Parents waiting on a decision should know if their child will receive a voucher by the end of July.

Other Louisiana Reform Updates

Slate of New Courses Set for Schools
The Advocate – June 28, 2012
In the 2012-13 school year, students in C, D and F schools will be able to take outside classes (paid by local school districts) to help them catch up with their peers, graduate on time or early, or earn college credit. BESE is scheduled to approve the new course providers, which could be colleges, online firms or private companies, in December.

Judge Rules on Post-Katrina Firings

Louisiana Illegally Fired 7,500 Teachers, Judge Says
New York Times – June 21, 2012
A Civil District Judge has ruled that the Orleans Parish School Board illegally fired 7,500 school employees after Katrina and that both the OPSB and the state, which took over most of OPSB’s schools after Katrina, are liable for unpaid salaries and benefits. For more on this ruling, read these articles in the Washington Post and the Times-Picayune. Both the state and OPSB will be appealing the ruling.

National Charter News

GAO Probes Charters on Serving Students With Disabilities
Education Week – June 19, 2012
The GAO recently put out a report saying charters are not enrolling as high a percentage of special education students as traditional public schools. The percentage of students with disabilities in charters was smaller (8.2%) than in traditional public schools (11.2%) for the 2009-2010 year. The GAO reports there is not enough evidence to determine why there is a difference.

GAO and George Miller Don’t Understand How Special Education Works
Education Excellence – June 20, 2012
The Fordham Institute says the GAO doesn’t understand how special education works. Fordham points out that no single traditional public school is expected to serve students with every single type of disability. Instead, what school districts do is create programs at particular schools that meet the needs of students with particular disabilities. Somehow charters are expected to do the impossible and serve every type of disability at one school.

Editor’s note: The RSD and OPSB need to work together to determine the number and types of public schools needed in the city. New Orleans needs some schools that specialize in certain exceptionalities and are equipped to handle them well.

Charter Schools and the Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education
Education Week – June 25, 2012
Michael Lomax, the president and chief executive of UNCF (formerly the United Negro College Fund) and former president of Dillard University, believes that charter schools play a critical role in moving us from where we are today to the future imagined in Brown v. Board of Education. Charters enroll a greater percentage of Black and Latino students than do traditional public schools, and research has shown that attending a charter high school boosts a student’s chance of going on to college.

RSD News

200 Recovery School District Teachers Laid Off
WDSU – June 18, 2012
The Recovery School District has laid off 200 teachers. Eighty-two were laid off because they were deemed ineffective, with many having less than half their students performing at grade level.

State Audit Says RSD Needs Better Construction Oversight
WWL TV – June 18, 2012
In New Orleans, more than a billion dollars worth of new and rebuilt schools are either completed or in the pipeline, but a report from the state’s legislative auditor says some construction projects are lacking proper oversight.

RSD to Bolster Economic Opportunities for Local Companies and Employees Through Creation of DBE Program
Recovery School District – June 25, 2012
The RSD announced the creation of its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program, which will encourage the participation of local DBE contractors in building and renovating schools throughout the city.

Shakeup at Algiers Charter Schools

Algiers Charter Schools Back Down on Principal Changes after Clamorous Protest
Times-Picayune – July 28, 2012
The board of the Algiers Charter School Association has agreed to postpone any staff changes for several days to consider parent and community concerns. The board will hold another meeting on July 3 to “discuss the issues and seek greater harmony.”

Algiers Parents, Faculty Merit New School Leader’s Respect: Jarvis DeBerry
Times-Picayune – July 1, 2012
Jarvis DeBerry believes that Aamir Raza, the consultant hired to be the interim chief academic officer for the Algiers Charter School Association, has been needlessly rude and disrespectful to parents and community leaders, a trait too often found with reformers.

Other Local News

Arise Academy Summer Activities Combine Lessons with Fun
Times-Picayune – June 23, 2012
Arise Academy has partnered with the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORDC) to provide summer camp to 130 children. With funding from NORDC, Arise is giving its students an extra three weeks of learning while also giving them a fun summer experience.

CEO of New Beginnings Charter Network Stepping Down this Week
The Lens – June 25, 2012
Vera Triplett, the CEO of New Beginnings Charter Network, will be leaving the charter network when her contract expires on June 30. Triplett has had a successful five years with New Beginnings as both COO and CEO, achieving growth in all four New Beginnings charter schools. She also oversaw the merger of two schools and the move of one elementary school to a new building.