In the News: May 6, 2013

In this edition of In the News:

  • Boomtown New Orleans
  • BGR Releases Report on OPSB Finances
  • Rethinking the High School to College Transition
  • Common Core Updates
  • National Education Stories
  • Louisiana Headlines
  • Local News

Boomtown New Orleans

The Top 12 American Boomtowns
Bloomberg – April 24, 2013
According to Bloomberg Rankings, New Orleans is one of America’s fastest growing cities. The New Orleans metropolitan area – New Orleans, Metairie, Kenner – was ranked #2 for population increase combined with growth in real GDP. New Orleans came in after Austin in the rankings but beat out Raleigh and Houston for the #2 spot.

BGR Releases Report on OPSB Finances

In The Accidental Steward, the Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR) examines the Orleans Parish School Board’s performance as resource manager for all public schools in New Orleans. The OPSB is the sole taxing and bonding authority for all public schools (OPSB, RSD, charter and direct-run), and it alone determines how certain revenue streams and resources are spent. The BGR found the following:

  • In 2011, OPSB overspent on its own charter and direct-run schools, using $2.1 million in common resources that should have been available for the needs of the system as a whole.
  • OPSB doesn’t have a system in place to ensure fair allocation of common resources. It doesn’t track or report expenditures by types of schools, and it doesn’t have a policy in place to make sure common resources benefit all schools and not just its own charter and direct-run schools.
  • OPSB has strengthened its financial position since Katrina and now receives clean audits and solid bond ratings, but challenges remain, including inadequate funding for facility maintenance.

For more on the BGR report, read these articles in the Times-Picayune and the Advocate.

Rethinking the High School to College Transition

Dual enrollment gives struggling students a college try
Kitsap Sun – April 19, 2013
A new Columbia University report shows that California students who took courses in community college while still in high school were more likely than their classmates to graduate and attend a four-year college, even among minority students who are historically underrepresented in higher education.

Is College Worth It?
Education Gadfly – May 2, 2013
In his new book, Is College Worth It, former U.S. education secretary Bill Bennett argues that for many students, the costs of a college degree outweigh the benefits. He says many people emerge from college with more in debts than in rewards, that there are viable and rewarding alternatives to the classic four-year bachelor’s degree, and that technology is bringing big changes to post-secondary education.

Delgado to build new campus in eastern N.O.
The Advocate – April 29, 2013
Delgado Community College is expanding to New Orleans East with a new campus on the site of the old Sidney Collier Technical College. Delgado’s Collier campus will have a structure and programs that connect to George Washington Carver High School, allowing Carver students to participate in dual enrollment programs.

Common Core Updates

States’ Online Testing Problems Raise Common-Core Concerns
Education Week – May 3, 2013
States are ramping up their technological infrastructure to prepare for the required online Common Core assessments in 2014-15, but widespread technical failures and interruptions of recent regular online testing are raising concerns about schools’ readiness.

Teachers’ Union President: Halt All High Stakes Linked to Common Core
Education Week – April 30, 2013
The American Federation of Teachers is calling for a moratorium on all stakes associated with the Common Core State Standards, saying that teachers have not had enough time or support to understand them and shift their instruction accordingly. AFT President Randi Weingarten says she approves of the Common Core but that more training is needed before students, teachers, and schools are judged on the new assessments.

Online provider offers courses in education, teacher training
Los Angeles Times – April 30, 2013
The online provider Coursera is offering free professional training and development courses to K-12 teachers in subjects such as content development, the Common Core curriculum, and blended learning strategies. Coursera partnered with schools of education, educational institutions, and museums to develop the new courses that will be available to people across the globe. View a list of available classes.

National Education Stories

A Nation at Risk: Where Are We Now?
Education Week – April 23, 2013
It’s been 30 years since the release of A Nation at Risk, which called for an end to the “rising tide of mediocrity” in our schools and is considered a catalyst for the academic-standards movement. An Education Week analysis of academic trends in the decades since the report shows high school students are completing more courses, and more rigorous courses, than their 1980s counterparts; NAEP scores in English and math have gone up; and high school graduation rates have remained pretty much the same.

Ed. Companies Exert Public-Policy Influence
Education Week – April 22, 2013
Education providers, including virtual schools, software companies, and for-profit charter school operators, have spent millions on lobbying and campaign contributions, raising concerns that companies are growing increasingly aggressive in their efforts to make money from the K-12 system.

Advice to TFA from a former insider
Education Week – April 24, 2013
A former TFA corps member, who dropped out after nine months in a New Orleans school, says she still admires TFA but they need to do better job of helping their teachers succeed. She believes TFA recruiters should paint a more realistic picture of the struggles corps members will face, and she recommends that TFA staff provide corps members a safe space for dialogue and even dissent.

Louisiana Headlines

Nearly 8,000 students receive voucher seats for 2013-14
Times-Picayune – May 2, 2013
Nearly 8,000 students were matched with voucher seats in the first round of applications for the 2013-14 school year, an increase of over 3,000 students from 2012-13. The voucher program has grown in popularity, but there are still concerns about using MFP to pay for vouchers and whether or not the state supreme court will rule this funding mechanism unconstitutional.

DeSoto investigation reveals lack of oversight
Shreveport Times – April 30, 2013
The FBI is investigating “financial discrepancies” at the DeSoto Parish School Board regarding payments to Walter Lee, their former Superintendent and a current BESE member. Questions include how much Lee actually received in salaries and benefits while he was superintendent and whether Lee was double billing the DeSoto school board for expenses related to his elected position at BESE.

Local News

Ben Franklin Elementary, McMain top OneApp choices for 2013-14
Times-Picayune – April 26, 2013
Over 27,000 students participated in the OneApp application and enrollment process this year. Two-thirds of students chose to stay in their current school. The top two choices for the remaining third were OPSB schools – Benjamin Franklin for elementary and Eleanor McMain for high school. This is the first year OPSB’s direct-run schools participated in the OneApp.

Education Pioneers Launches in New Orleans to Recruit, Train 80 New Education Leaders by 2015
Sacramento Bee – April 25, 2013
Education Pioneers has expanded to New Orleans with the goal of recruiting and training 80 new education leaders for New Orleans by 2015. Education Pioneers is a national nonprofit focused on attracting talent for positions outside the classroom. They partner with local school districts, charter management organizations, and nonprofits to offer fellowships in key areas, including finance, operations, human resources, curriculum design, data analysis, and law.

Three of four Capital One-New Beginnings principals resign mid-year
The Lens – April 30, 2013
Principals at three of the four charter schools run by Capital One-New Beginnings resigned mid-year. All three principals said they resigned “for personal reasons,” but the New Beginnings CEO admits it does raise questions.

New Orleans students find shortcomings in language services
The Advocate – April 25, 2013
Members of the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of America (VAYLA) conducted a survey of more than 120 ESL students in six New Orleans public schools, as well as many families, and found that ESL students are getting lost in the system. There aren’t enough certified ESL instructors at schools; students are being pulled out of class to translate for administrators and families; and parents who don’t speak English are finding it difficult to advocate for their children.

Mays parents urge OPSB to take over school
The Advocate – April 28, 2013
Parents from Benjamin Mays Preparatory School asked the Orleans Parish School Board to take over the failing school and keep it from closing at the end of the year. OPSB members said they will talk to the RSD about transferring control of the school.

Petition seeks ouster of John Mac High charter
The Lens – April 23, 2013
More than 180 people have signed a petition requesting removal of the charter organization Future is Now Schools, its board, and its CEO Steve Barr, from John McDonogh High School. The petition says, “This charter operator has proven to be ineffective and damaging to the students that attend the school.”


  • Benjamin Franklin High School and Lusher Charter School were ranked among the best high schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Both schools were awarded gold medal status, with Franklin ranked #55 and Lusher ranked #353 out of more than 21,000 public high schools. Read more.
  • International High School of New Orleans won Top School in French, Top School in Spanish, and Top School Overall for enrollment under 600 at Southeastern Louisiana University’s annual Foreign Language Festival. Read more.
  • The Xavier Prep community succeeded in saving their school. It will reopen next year as the all-girls St. Katherine Drexel Preparatory High School. The building will be purchased by a group of alumni, and the school will be operated by a new governing board in association with the archdiocese. Read more.
  • Silverback Society received a three-year, $300,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for its mentorship program. The Silverback Society will use the funds to provide positive male role models for eighth-grade boys, particularly African-Americans, in New Orleans public schools. Read more.