In the News – April 22, 2013

In this edition of In the News:

  • New Orleans and Innovation
  • Education Nation Comes to New Orleans
  • Louisiana Headlines
  • National Education Stories
  • Local News

New Orleans and Innovation

The Big Comeback: Is New Orleans America’s Next Great Innovation Hub?
Atlantic Monthly – April 8, 2013
New Orleans had a choice after Katrina – curl into a wet grave; rebuild as it was; or reinvent itself. Today the city has become a hub of innovation and an incubator for new entrepreneurs. This choice reveals both the tantalizing allure, and the deep challenges, of reinventing a city.

Can a ‘Moneyball’ Approach Turn Around New Orleans Schools?
National Journal – April 13, 2013
A strong focus on student data and analytics is one way schools like Sci Academy are changing public education in New Orleans. The challenge going forward is to build on the city’s successes – improved test scores, a graduation rate on par with the national average – while addressing tough challenges, including services for children with disabilities and not enough high-quality schools.

TFA Alumni Aid New Teachers in New Orleans
Education Week – April 19, 2013
The influx of new, inexperienced teachers to New Orleans schools continues to spark debate between those who point to significant gains in student performance as a sign of success and those who see high teacher turnover and attrition rates as indicators of failure. Two TFA alums started a support group called the New Teachers’ Roundtable to help new teachers cope with their experiences and understand their role in this city’s history and schools.

Education Nation Comes to New Orleans

Education Nation event puts Louisiana schools in spotlight
The Advocate – April 16, 2013
NBC brought its Education Nation tour to New Orleans this month, sponsoring a week of events and programming focused on education challenges and opportunities in the New Orleans region. Events included an Education Summit hosted by Hoda Kotb as well as a Teacher Town Hall and a Student Town Hall.

Video from the Education Nation events is available on the NBC website.

For more information and commentary on the events, read these articles in the Times-Picayune.

Louisiana Headlines

Charter-affiliated teacher prep program to expand to New Orleans
Times-Picayune – April 16, 2013
The Relay Graduate School of Education will be offering a new alternative certification program to Louisiana teachers, including a one-year track for novice teachers starting in the summer of 2014, and a two-year master’s degree beginning this fall. Relay was started in 2008 by three national charter groups, KIPP, Uncommon Schools and Achievement First, and it already has informal partnerships with nearly every charter management organization in New Orleans as well as the Recovery School District.

Study shows that poor children in Louisiana benefit more from early education
Examiner – April 10, 2013
A recent study from the Cecil J. Picard Center shows the positive impact Louisiana’s LA4 preschool has had on poor children – those receiving free or reduced-priced lunch. Eighth-graders who had been enrolled in the LA4 preschool program as four-year-olds continued to score better than their peers across all subjects.

Louisiana school head pulling student info from nonprofit’s database
Alexandria Town Talk – April 20, 2013
Responding to concerns about family and student privacy, Louisiana Education Superintendent John White agreed to withdraw Louisiana student information from inBloom data storage. InBloom is a national nonprofit that is working to provide affordable technology to local school districts. White believes that in time he will be able to allay fears about storing Louisiana data with an outside company.

National Education Stories

Obama Budget Would Invest in Pre-K, High School Overhaul
Education Week – April 10, 2013
President Obama is seeking $75 billion over the next 10 years for a major expansion of preschool programs for low- and moderate-income children. The program would be paid for through a new, 94 cent tax on tobacco products. Obama’s initiative also would include a $750 million investment in preschool development grants to help states expand access and improve program quality.

Funding Students, Options, and Achievement
Education Week – April 18, 2013
Smart Series paper calls for a full redesign of school funding policy to reorient the system around students. The authors call for a student-centered school finance system that is: 1) weighted to reflect the cost of educating certain students, e.g. high poverty, special needs, or gifted; 2) flexible to create greater school-level autonomy; 3) portable so that dollars can follow students to the school or course that best suits their individual needs; and 4) performance-based with incentives to reward performance and student completion.

Bigger Math Gains Seen In Middle School TFA Teachers’ Pupils
Education Week – April 9, 2013
A recent Texas study found that middle school students taught by TFA corps members and TFA alumni scored higher in math than students of non-TFA teachers with the same level of experience. The difference corresponds to more than a half year of additional learning for TFA corps members and close to a year of additional learning for TFA alumni.

Charter Schools’ Funding Lags, Study Finds
Education Week – April 17, 2013
Charter school students receive about $4,000 less in per-pupil funding than their regular public school peers according to an analysis of five regions across the U.S. The report includes federal, state, local, and non-public revenue for charter schools, and is a precursor to a larger study that will analyze funding trends for charter schools in 30 states and the District of Columbia. Editor’s note: In Louisiana the law requires that charters receive 98% of the per-pupil funding.

New Analysis Bolsters Case Against Suspension, Researchers Say
Education Week – April 8, 2013
A new study from UCLA’s Civil Rights Project looked at 26,000 schools and found that 1 in 9 secondary students in the U.S. received an out-of-school suspension. The study also found that since the 1970s the suspension rate for Black students more than doubled, while for white students, it remained nearly flat. Research has shown that being suspended even once in 9th grade is associated with a twofold increase in the likelihood of dropping out. Editor’s note: Suspensions and dropouts may be correlated, but suspensions do not necessarily cause dropouts. New Orleans has a relatively high suspension rate; it also has a relatively high graduation rate.

The Education Issue: Believing self-control predicts success, schools teach coping
Washington Post – April 11, 2013
Schools across the country are responding to research that suggests learning self-control in childhood can prevent serious problems later in life. Schools are finding alternatives to out-of-school suspensions by using a variety of tools – from character-based education to mindfulness meditation to social emotional learning – to teach the challenging, essential ABCs of self-control.

Academic Gains in NYC, D.C., and Chicago Overstated, Report Contends
Education Week – April 11, 2013
A new report compares student performance in NYC, D.C. and Chicago to other urban districts that did not aggressively pursue reform policies, such as using test scores in teacher evaluations, opening more charter schools, and shutting down failing schools. Looking at NAEP scores over time, the study found that in the three districts, NAEP scores grew more slowly and achievement gaps widened more when compared to other urban districts.

States look at alternatives to GED test
Associated Press – April 15, 2013
Many states are looking for an alternative to the GED high school equivalency test for next year. GED is updating its exam, and the new version of the test will be computer-based, more expensive, and likely more difficult. Editor’s Note: Louisiana has decided to remain with the GED for now.

Local News

Some New Orleans schools to see per-pupil funding drop
The Lens – April 16, 2013
With only a few months before their fiscal year ends, schools are going to see a reduction in their local per pupil funding. The per-pupil amount for the 2012-13 school year was projected to be $4,110 a child, but the amount is actually $3,929 – a reduction of $181 per student. Some argue that an increase in New Orleans voucher students contributed to the local shortfall.

Six school buildings herald new era in New Orleans
Times-Picayune – April 9, 2013
Six new school buildings opened their doors in last fall – Crocker and Woodson in Central City, Fannie C. Williams and Osborne in eastern New Orleans, and Parkview and Bienville in Gentilly. The buildings were constructed using the $1.8 billion FEMA settlement that the city received after Katrina. The new buildings have generated a lot of excitement, but questions remain about the School Facilities Master Plan and how the rest of the new construction and renovation will be funded.

2 new Orleans Parish charter schools find homes
Times-Picayune – April 17, 2013
The Orleans Parish School Board’s two new charter schools have finally been assigned buildings for next fall. The Homer A. Plessy Community School will share the former Frederick Douglass High School building with RSD charter Arise Academy, while Bricolage Academy will open in a temporary location Uptown.

Plan would allow some charter schools to reserve seats while taking part in OneApp
The Lens – April 15, 2013
The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is considering a plan that will allow Type 2 charters located in New Orleans to participate in the OneApp process but still hold seats for specific students. For example, New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy would be allowed to hold seats for students of military families statewide, and the International School of Louisiana could hold spots for study-abroad students.

John Mac charter school leaders are concerned about making payroll this month
Times-Picayune – April 17, 2013
In the wake of lower than projected revenues, leaders at John McDonogh High School are scrambling to find ways to make payroll on April 30. The school planned its budget around 480 students but had only 389 as of the October 1 count. Steve Barr, the head of the school’s charter management organization, says he will look for private donations and turn to his national organization for money before withholding pay from employees.

Keeping better track at the RSD: Editorial
Times-Picayune – April 12, 2013
Recent audits have raised concerns about RSD operations that the Times-Picayune says are a little too reminiscent of the old OPSB pre-Katrina. The first audit criticized the disappearance of $2.7 million in lost or stolen property over the past four years. The second faults the RSD for not properly overseeing modular campus construction after Hurricane Katrina, resulting in $6.1 million in questionable costs on the $105 million project.

Educate Now! was saddened to learn that Harold “Hal” Brown passed away last week. Hal helped to found New Orleans College Prep and was its first board chairman. He also served on the board of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools. Hal was very active in other areas of the recovery including key roles in economic development and neighborhood revitalization. His wife, Shawn Kennedy, asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to New Orleans College Prep or to the New Orleans African American Museum.