In the News: January 20, 2013

In this edition of In the News:

Grading School Reform

For its opinion page, asked a variety of people to weigh in on school reform in Louisiana. Read a summary or click on the links below to read the individual opinion pieces.

Education reform a game-changer for New Orleans – Patrick Dobard, RSD Superintendent

Evolving Louisiana’s classrooms from creationism – Zack Kopplin, college student

Teach for America, a positive agent of change in Orleans schools – Kimberly Sanfeliz, former TFA New Orleans corps member

Gov. Jindal shows disdain for teachers, public education – Steve Monaghan, President, Louisiana Federation of Teachers

7 years later, are New Orleans schools better off? – Karran Harper Royal, parent and advocate for students with special needs

New Orleans schools outperform state, nation in graduating students – Leslie Jacobs, founder, Educate Now!

The Place to Be

Check Us Out
Idea Village and 4.0 Schools – January 2013
Check out this vibrant and well done video on EdTech entrepreneurship and New Orleans.

High Marks for RSD Charters

ACT scores show gain in New Orleans’ Recovery School District
Times-Picayune – December 28, 2012
According to a new report by the Cowen Institute, the RSD’s charter high schools posted a higher average ACT score for the Class of 2012 than OPSB’s direct-run high schools. RSD charters had an average composite score of 17.9, compared with 17.3 for OPSB’s direct-run schools. Educate Now! congratulates O. Perry Walker and Sci Academy for scoring over 19, higher than any other open-admissions high schools in Orleans Parish.

Louisiana News

New state BESE members hail from Jindal’s circle, Xavier University
Times-Picayune – January 18, 2013
Two governor-appointed BESE members are stepping down: Former BESE President Penny Dastugue and John Bennett. Governor Jindal has appointed Stephen Waguespack, his former chief of staff, and Judy Miranti, director of the Division of Education and Graduate Studies at Xavier University, as their replacements.

Successful charters can now open new schools without state OK
Times-Picayune – January 18, 2013
Starting this year, a high-performing charter operator that meets certain, stringent criteria may open up to two new schools without formally applying for new charters. This policy applies to all charters, including ones authorized by local school districts. In addition, BESE approved the Charter School Performance Contract, which codifies management and financial requirements for state-authorized charters and spells out the procedures for intervening in a troubled school.

La. mental health program to cease
The Advocate – January 9, 2013
As part of budget cuts, Governor Jindal is eliminating funding for the Early Childhood Supports and Services Program, which provides counseling to young children (under the age of 6) in low-income families. The $2.8 million in federal funds the program was slated to receive will be used elsewhere in the state’s operating budget.

Louisiana’s rank rises on national education quality report card
Times-Picayune – January 10, 2013
Louisiana jumped eight places on Education Week‘s annual “Quality Counts” report card, from 23rd in the nation to 15th. Louisiana’s C+ grade reflected a wide variation in the report’s subcategories. The state received a nearly perfect score for standards, assessments, and accountability but landed in 48th place for K-12 achievement.

StudentsFirst group rates Louisiana education policies high
The Advocate – January 9, 2013
Louisiana ranks first in the nation for policies that prioritize the interests of children, according to a report by StudentsFirst, the education policy organization founded by Michelle Rhee. The report focused on three key factors: state policies to improve the teaching profession (including meaningful teacher evaluations); empowering parents through information, access and school choice; and spending education dollars wisely. Read more in this Louisiana DOE press release.

National Headlines

Tool to Weigh Parent Engagement
Education Week – January 15, 2013
Harvard University and Survey Monkey are offering a new tool to help weigh parent engagement. School districts and parent-teacher organizations around the country have already started using the Parent Survey for K-12 Schools to measure family involvement – from how much help students receive at home to how confident parents are in supporting their child’s schooling. Districts can adapt the survey to meet their needs, and parents can respond online or on paper.

Gallup: Student Engagement Drops With Each Grade
Education Week – January 14, 2013
According to a Gallup Student Poll, the number of students engaged in school declines steadily with every year that passes. Gallop surveyed over 500,000 students in grades 5-12 and found that nearly 8 out of 10 elementary school students qualified as engaged, but by middle school that number dropped to 6 out of 10 students, and by high school it dropped to 4 out of 10. Gallup’s report looks at the potential causes for this decline as well as the costs to our economy if it isn’t reversed.

Combined Measures Better at Gauging Teacher Effectiveness, Study Finds
Education Week – January 8, 2013
A three-year study of teacher effectiveness sponsored by the Gates Foundation found that a teacher’s success can be measured, but it requires a combination of student feedback, test-score growth calculations, and observations of practice to get a balanced and accurate picture. The study also found that basing more than half the evaluation on test scores undermines the results and that teachers should be observed by more than one person to ensure scores are reliable.

OPSB: The Politics of Education

The Politics of Education
New Orleans Magazine – January 2013
The November elections significantly changed the makeup of the Orleans Parish School Board. Many agree that losing Lourdes Moran, who played a key role in bringing OPSB’s finances under control, is a significant loss, but it is still unclear how the new members will impact school governance. The OPSB’s first major decision, hiring the new school superintendent, should give some indication of the board’s future direction.

Orleans Parish School Board swears in members, chooses president
Times-Picayune – January 14, 2013
Orleans Parish School Board members have been sworn in for a new four-year term, including three new representatives, Sarah Newell Usdin, Leslie Ellison and Nolan Marshall, Jr. The board unanimously elected Ira Thomas as president and Ellison as vice president.

No New Orleans schools will return to city control in 2013-14
Times-Picayune – January 3, 2013
The Algiers Charter School Association voted to keep its three eligible schools — Martin Behrman, Dwight D. Eisenhower and O. Perry Walker High – in the Recovery School District instead of letting them return to the OPSB.

More Local Updates

Application period for most New Orleans public schools begins Wednesday
Times-Picayune – January 12, 2013
The application period for 2013-14 student enrollment begins this week with the opening of the OneApp process. OneApp is the new centralized enrollment system begun last year for RSD schools, but this year it will include all OPSB direct-run schools as well as the private and parochial schools participating in the voucher program.

Rex foundation to award $525,000 in grants for New Orleans charter schools
Times-Picayune – January 11, 2013
The Pro Bono Publico Foundation will award 31 grants totaling more than $525,000 to charter schools and the organizations that support them. Pro Bono Publico is financed by members of the Rex organization, and the grants are part of the foundation’s continuing commitment to the recovery of New Orleans.

Documentary looks at McDonogh school
The Advocate – January 9, 2013
A new documentary series called “Blackboard Wars” will tell the story of John McDonogh High School. John McDonogh was transitioned to a charter school just last summer and is showing signs of a successful turnaround, but not everyone is happy about the documentary. Some community members have expressed outrage at the negative way the school is being presented. The six-part series will air on the Oprah Winfrey Network in March.


Education Pioneers is looking for a new director to run their New Orleans operations. View the job description or visit their website for more information.