In the News – August 13, 2012

In this edition of In the News:

We’re America’s Fastest Growing City

A Look Into America’s Fastest Growing City
Forbes – July 26, 2012
New Orleans is America’s fastest growing city, and it’s not just because of residents returning since Katrina. A high quality of life, business-friendly environment, and progress in education reform have lured new industries, new jobs and new people to the city.

A Tale of 2 Charters

Opening and Closing Charter Schools
Thompson Publications – August 7, 2012
Two of the first charter schools sponsored by New Schools for New Orleans achieved very different results in their first four years. Sojourner Truth Academy has lost it’s charter and is being shut down while Sci Academy has achieved remarkable academic results and is planning to expand with two more high schools. Neerav Kingsland reflects on the lessons that can be learned by these two very different charter stories.

Transferring Schools to Local Control

Orleans Parish School Board Anticipates Local Control for More Schools
Times-Picayune – July 31, 2012
The Orleans Parish School Board anticipates that the first handful of eligible charter schools will choose to return to local OPSB control in the 2013-14 school year, but key issues, especially those surrounding financial autonomy, still need to be resolved before this happens.

Joint Statement from RSD Superintendent Dobard and BESE Committee Chair Kira Orange Jones
Department of Education – August 1, 2012
BESE issued a statement saying they were pleased by the RSD’s success in turning around failing schools and that they fully support RSD’s process for transferring schools back to the Orleans Parish School Board.

Orleans Parish School Board Fall Elections

Nonprofit Founder Will Challenge Incumbent in Orleans Parish School Board Election
Times-Picayune – August 9, 2012
Sarah Usdin, founder of New Schools for New Orleans, is going to run for a seat on the Orleans Parish School Board this fall. Ms. Usdin will go up against Brett Bonin for New Orleans’ third district, which encompasses Lakeview as well as parts of Gentilly and Mid-City. Editor’s note: Qualifying for the OPSB elections is August 15-17. All seven school board positions are on the ballot.

National Education Stories

Principals Drop Ball on Teacher Retention, Study Says
Education Week – July 30, 2012
report from TNTP says the challenge for school leaders is not just to retain all teachers, but to retain the right teachers. The report concludes that it is possible for principals to identify and retain the most successful teachers, but they must learn to consider teacher quality in retention decisions.

Education Cuts Favored By Americans Include Teacher Salary Freezes, Administration Cuts, Survey Says
Huffington Post – August 2, 2012
According to a new survey from the Fordham Institute, most people don’t support additional taxes for schools nor do they want their school district to simply cut programs to deal with budget deficits. Instead the most popular cost cutting measures were: closing or combining schools (63%); merging small school districts (63%); freezing school workers’ pay and reducing teacher salaries (58%); and cutting back on administrators (69%.)

Pay Teachers More: Financial Planning for Reach Models
Public Impact Initiative – August 2012
This brief from Public Impact summarizes how schools can do more with less by creating new roles and collaborative teams that enable teachers and staff to develop and contribute more. Three school models show that schools could increase excellent teachers’ pay up to 130% without increasing class sizes and within existing budgets.

Researchers Sound Alarm Over Black Student Suspensions
Education Week – August 7, 2012
A new analysis of federal data shows that nearly one in six African-American students was suspended from school during the 2009-10 academic year, more than three times the rate of their white peers.

Louisiana Education News

Number of ‘Unacceptable’ Schools in Louisiana up 33 Percent
Times-Picayune – July 31, 2012
Tougher state standards mean that more schools will receive a failing grade this year, but the number of schools below the new failing score of 75 has actually gone down from 264 last year to 180 this year.

2012 projected Academically Unacceptable schools in Louisiana
2011 Academically Unacceptable schools in Louisiana

BESE to Consider Hiring
Advocate – August 10, 2012
The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is considering Heather Cope for their next Executive Director – their fourth in five years. Ms. Cope currently works for the League of Education Voters, a Seattle education advocacy group.

Letter: Advocate Ignoring School Efforts
Advocate – August 9, 2012
In response to an Advocate editorial saying not enough is being done to help students in Louisiana’s traditional public schools, Superintendent John White outlines his department’s plans and efforts to improve public education across the state.

Louisiana: Boards Can Penalize Parents for Failure to Participate
Education Week – August 3, 2012
A new Louisiana law empowers school districts to take punitive action against parents who fail to show up for a requested parent-teacher conference, either in person or over the phone.

Delhi Charter School In Louisiana Changing Policy That Requires Pregnancy Tests
Huffington Post – August 8, 2012
Delhi Charter School in rural northeast Louisiana has agreed to change a policy that requires students who are suspected of being pregnant to take a pregnancy test, and if they refuse or test positive, to be home-schooled. Representatives of the charter said they didn’t realize their policy was against the law.

Vouchers Still in the News

Private School Voucher Program Leaves 4,000 Families Out in the Cold
Times-Picayune – August 5, 2012
Of the 9,750 student applications deemed eligible for the state’s voucher program, about 5,600 got matched to a school. This means over 4,000 families interested in vouchers will have to return to public schools.

Bobby Jindal’s Vouchers Will Provide Over $700,000 Per Year To School Led by ‘Prophet, Apostle. – August 7, 2012
Pastor Leonard Lucas, self-proclaimed prophet and apostle, has received preliminary approval for 80 voucher students for his Light City Christian Academy in New Orleans. Lucas is the owner and registered agent of at least three dozen companies, the majority of which are non-profits listed as “Not in Good Standing” by the Louisiana Secretary of State. Read Gambit’s satire of this situation called The Gospel of Lucas.

Jindal’s Education Department Refuses to Release Voucher Records
Associated Press – August 8, 2012
The Louisiana Department of Education has refused to provide records from its deliberations over which schools were chosen to participate in the state’s voucher program. Supt. White says outdated information from earlier deliberations could cause confusion for parents who are still deciding whether to send their children to voucher schools. White has agreed to release the records after September 1, when voucher enrollment is set, but James Gill says odds are there was no process for approving voucher schools.

Voucher Vitriol
The Economist – August 9, 2012
The Economist looks at the controversy surrounding Louisiana’s voucher program, from the debate over publicly funded religious education to the recent threat from a teachers’ union to sue any school that takes voucher money.

Bringing Voucher Schools to the Light
WWNO – August 10, 2012
Louisiana’s private and parochial schools often fail to educate students, just like public schools. (Louisiana ranks 41st in the nation on ACT scores.) Andre Perry believes this means true voucher accountability is critical, not just for the success of the program but also for the vitality of our city.

Other Local News 

Quest for a Spot in a New Orleans School is Streamlined but Still Rocky
Times-Picayune – August 12, 2012
The RSD’s streamlined process has made public school enrollment a lot simpler, but for newcomers to the city, navigating New Orleans’ system of schools is still a challenge.

Reading, Writing, ‘Rithmetic and Recess: A Guest Column by Dr. Corey Hebert and Allison Gouaux
Times-Picayune – August 4, 2012
Studies show that investing in recess and organized play can prevent bullying, improve behavior and readiness for class, and provide more time for teaching and learning. In New Orleans many students may not be getting the physical activity and mental breaks they need to achieve their best at school.

Audubon Charter to Begin Exploring Possible High School
Uptown Messenger – July 28, 2012
Audubon Charter School plans to take steps toward creating a new high school, one that will meet the needs of both its Montessori and its French immersion students.

New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy Opens Its 2nd Year at Federal City
Times-Picayune – August 8, 2012
The New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy will begin its second year in a new location inside the Federal City development in Algiers.