In the News: December 17, 2012

Educate Now! is deeply saddened by the events in Newtown, Connecticut, and our thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been devastated by such senseless violence. Let us honor the memory of those who were lost by doing a better job of protecting and nurturing the children in our own community.

The Times-Picayune recently reported that nearly one third of New Orleans middle-school students are experiencing symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. More than 29% have seen assaults committed with weapons, while almost 14% have witnessed murders. All of us in New Orleans must work together to provide the mental health and social services that our children need and deserve.

In Other News

Accolades for New Orleans Schools

The Education Choice and Competition Index
Education Gadfly – December 13, 2012
The Brookings Institution released its latest Education Choice and Competition Index (ECCI), which ranked 107 school districts based the quality of education choice for families and competition among schools. The RSD-New Orleans came out on top, boasting the ECCI’s only “A” grade. OPSB schools were ranked #6. In addition to funding for school alternatives, including charters and school vouchers, the RSD got high marks for its common enrollment process, with school assignments based on parental preference, and the availability of school performance data.

New Orleans schools selected to share $25M in Gates grants
Associated Press – December 5, 2012
Seven cities, including New Orleans, will split $25 million in grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Funding will go toward projects aimed at reducing tension between school districts and charters, including universal enrollment systems, leadership training for aspiring principals, and joint professional development for charter and district teachers.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visits New Orleans school, talks of progress
Times-Picayune – December 4, 2012
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited George Washington Carver High School in eastern New Orleans, and after touring the temporary classroom trailers and meeting with students and teachers he said, “I’m pretty inspired being here.” Duncan congratulated the school on its progress and also highlighted the work of the Recovery School District for helping to make broad gains in a school system that was previously lagging.

Big Changes for New Orleans Charters

Four New Orleans schools lose their charters; five other groups approved to take over schools
Times-Picayune – December 6, 2012
The latest decisions from BESE will have a major impact on New Orleans charter schools.

  • BESE revoked the charters of four elementary schools because of poor academic performance: Benjamin Mays, Crocker, Intercultural and Pride College Prep.
  • Eight schools were given charter extensions:
    • For one year: Arise Academy, Lake Area and Success Prep
    • For three years: KIPP Central City, Miller-McCoy and Pierre Capdau
    • For five years: Akili Academy
    • For ten years: Sci Academy
  • Four charter management organizations got approval to take over struggling schools: ReNEW, Crescent City, New Orleans College Prep and Arise.
  • Mary D. Coghill will be converted to a charter operated by the Better Choice Foundation.

Changes in New Orleans charter school landscape beginning to come clear
Times-Picayune – December 14, 2012
Changes in the New Orleans Recovery School District are beginning to shake out for the 2013-14 school year. New Orleans College Prep will take over Crocker Arts and Technology; Arise Academy is expected to take over Pride College Prep; and Einstein Charter is hoping to take over Intercultural Charter. In addition, the RSD is talking about closing RSD-run James Weldon Johnson Elementary and transferring its students into Benjamin Banneker.

Landry-Walker merger faces opposition
The Advocate – December 14, 2012
Supporters of L.B. Landry and O.P. Walker high schools are against the RSD’s proposed merger of the two schools. Demographic studies show that only one high school is needed in the Algiers neighborhood, but parents, alumni and students of both Landry and Walker are fighting to keep their school’s identity and history intact.

National Education Stories

Colleges agree to recruit KIPP alumni
Washington Post – November 26, 2012
Twenty colleges and universities, including Georgetown and the University of Pennsylvania, have pledged to recruit students from KIPP schools nationwide. The colleges and universities will identify and recruit top KIPP students, work with those who need financial aid, provide mentoring and support, and track the progress of KIPP alumni. In return, KIPP will promote the 20 schools among their 39,000 students. There are currently nine KIPP schools in New Orleans.

From all walks of life: new hope for school integration
American Educator – Winter 2012-2013
In this article, Richard Kahlenberg outlines the case for socioeconomic integration of schools and discusses some of the lessons he has learned in 16 years of promoting the cause. Kahlenberg points to research indicating that the Black and Latino achievement gap is less if the students are not isolated in a high poverty school environment. “Social class of the school matters more than the SES of the student.”

Study probes math course-taking, finds flaws in repeating algebra
Education Week – December 3, 2012
A new California study shows that for students who struggle with math in middle school, only one in five students who repeated algebra in grade 9 achieved proficiency afterward. The report suggests that districts and schools should focus more on targeted instructional assistance instead of simply asking students to retake a class.

5 megatrends that shaped 2012 education
Education Week – December 4, 2012
According to Education Week, the five trends that shaped education in 2012 and will continue to impact education for the next decade are: state education policy and state leadership matter more than ever; we are just at the beginning of data-driven education reform; mobile devices and free or cheap apps are changing the way teachers operate in the classroom; online learning is growing more popular every day; but blended learning (online and onsite) is the future of public schools.

American 4th graders among top readers in global study
Education Week – December 11, 2012
The most recent results from PIRLS, an international literacy assessment, show that America is gaining ground in 4th grade reading against other top-performing countries. Since 2006, the last time the exam was given, American 4th graders increased their average score by 16 points, compared with 9 in Singapore, 7 in Hong Kong, and 3 in Russia. Of the 57 countries that took the test, four scored higher than the U.S. – Finland, Hong Kong, Russia, and Singapore.

Arne Duncan sketches out ‘long haul’ agenda
Education Week – December 4, 2012
In the next four years, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says he will continue to use competitive grants to improve teacher and principal quality and will focus on state efforts to implement common academic standards, common tests, and teacher evaluations. Other challenges include implementing state flexibility waivers to the NCLB law and monitoring Race to the Top grants. Reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is another priority for Duncan, but he says first Congress has to get serious about rewriting the current version (No Child Left Behind).

Other Local News

Pre-kindergarten students can bypass kindergarten school lottery under policy change
Times-Picayune – December 12, 2012
The Recovery School District plans to increase the number of pre-K programs in New Orleans by allowing elementary schools to enroll pre-K students directly into kindergarten, exempting them from the common enrollment process. The RSD hopes schools will be more inclined to invest in pre-K if it increases the chances that pre-K students will enroll in kindergarten.

New Orleans public school bids point to larger problem with master building plan
Times-Picayune – December 13, 2012
It may be time to revisit the School Facilities Master Plan. Construction has already begun on some buildings, but project bids keep coming in over budget – as much as $15 million over for Carver High. There are still 25 brand new schools that haven’t broken ground yet plus dozens of planned renovations.

Lusher taking security precautions as police search for janitorial worker charged with murder
Uptown Messenger – December 8, 2012
Lusher Charter School changed all the locks at its high school campus and is consulting with the police after learning that one of its janitorial workers, employed by Jani-King, was charged in a shooting in Central City that killed one woman and wounded three other people. Editor’s note: We need to understand why the State Police’s background check did not disclose his lengthy record of violent crime, including charges of first-degree murder.


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