In the News – May 21, 2013

In this Edition of In the News:

  • Choice Updates
  • Session Status
  • National Headlines
  • Local News

Choice Updates

Shakeout from school voucher ruling by Louisiana Supreme Court begins
Times-Picayune – May 15, 2013
The Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that using the MFP to fund vouchers and Course Choice is unconstitutional, which means the state has to find another way to pay for the programs. Andrew Vanacore suggests that with 8,000 vouchers students already signed up for this coming school year, legislators will probably approve voucher funding for 2013-14. After that, the programs’ future is uncertain. As for Course Choice, Superintendent John White says his department plans to go ahead with the program next year and fund the $2.1 million through his own department budget.

Some La. students were signed up for Course Choice without their knowledge
Town Talk – May 13, 2013
The Course Choice provider FastPath is quickly signing up students for its online reading and math programs, but some parents are saying their children were enrolled without their knowledge or permission. One legislator is considering requiring students to be enrolled in Course Choice only at the school site.

More charter schools coming to New Orleans
Times-Picayune – May 16, 2013
The state has received applications for more than 100 new charter schools in Louisiana, including nine schools in New Orleans. In addition to applications from several new national operators, FirstLine wants to expand its five-school portfolio to six, and the groups that run Sci Academy, Martin Luther King, and KIPP are looking to open schools in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Meanwhile, the OPSB charter application process is underway with final applications due in June.

New nonprofit helps to recruit charter companies to BR
The Advocate – May 20, 2013
New Schools for Baton Rouge has been working hard to recruit successful charter operators to their city. Of the 22 organizations that applied to start a new charter in Baton Rouge, seven were recruited by New Schools. Five are national organizations new to Louisiana, and two already have schools in New Orleans.

Auditor faults charter school oversight
The Advocate – May 20, 2013
A recent legislative audit of the Louisiana Department of Education found that the DOE is correctly monitoring financial data and test results for charter schools, but it is lacking in other areas of oversight. Among the findings, the DOE did not verify self-reported data on attendance, dropouts, and graduation rates, and it did not determine if eight charter schools placed on probation in 2010 met required standards in 2011 to continue operating.

Session Status

Education bills in the 2013 Louisiana legislative session: Where are they now?
Times-Picayune – May 17, 2013
This education roundup gives a summary of the bills in this session and where they stand, including bills that would: give the Legislature approval power over the school letter grading process; prohibit schools from administering ACT test to students with disabilities; and delay value-added teacher assessments for at least one year.

National Headlines

Many teachers say they need training in Common Core standards, poll says
Washington Post – May 3, 2013
According to a recent poll, most public school teachers feel unprepared to teach math and reading to standards of the new, more rigorous Common Core. While 75% of teachers say they support Common Core, less than one-third say they have received the training and resources they need to make the transition.

The moderate extremism of relinquishment
Education Gadfly – May 15, 2013
NSNO’s Neerav Kingsland discusses the theory of Relinquishment. He explains what it is – educators operating schools (not government), families choosing among these schools, and government holding schools accountable for performance and equity – and also what it isn’t – it doesn’t call for an end to unions, doesn’t aim to abolish government’s involvement in public schooling, and doesn’t predict miraculous results.

Rifts Deepen Over Direction of Ed. Policy in U.S.
Education Week – May 7, 2013
Not since the battles over school desegregation has the debate about public education been so intense and polarized. Issues such as charter school expansion, school vouchers, value-added teacher assessments, Common Core, and standardized testing are generating strong emotions and creating interesting partnerships across the political aisle.

Ed. Funders Giving More to Same Few, Studies Show
Education Week – May 7, 2013
Researchers looked at giving patters for the 15 foundations that donate the most to K-12 education and found that donations have increased each year, but funds are being channeled to fewer groups. In 2010, 65% of annual giving went to groups also supported by other top foundations, compared to 25% in 2000. Also, top foundations are giving less to traditional public schools and more to charter schools, and they are becoming much more active in shaping how their grantees develop.

With an Old Factory, Philadelphia Is Hoping to Draw New Teachers
New York Times – May 5, 2013
To help attract and retain public school teachers, Philadelphia is converting an old dye factory into apartments for teachers and offices for nonprofit educational organizations, such as Teach For America. The building will have conference rooms, a coffee shop, a health club and a copy center to help teachers with their lesson plans. Editor’s note: Great idea for New Orleans!

Local News

Morris Jeff charter school board embraces new teachers union
The Lens – May 17, 2013
The Morris Jeff Association of Educators is the first charter teachers group to formally organize. Comprised solely of Morris Jeff teachers, the union will receive support from the Louisiana Association of Educators but will not be considered the New Orleans chapter of LAE. The Morris Jeff charter board voted unanimously to recognize the union.

Mother’s Day shooting at New Orleans parade draws fearful reaction from students
Times-Picayune – May 13, 2013
The students at Success Prep are struggling to deal with the aftermath of the Mother’s Day shooting. At a recent assembly the students told stories of what they saw that day and shared their fears that it might happen again. The leader of the middle school ended the assembly saying, “There’s only one thing to do: Go back and learn. Because educated people change the world.”

New Orleans school building planning committee meets for first time in 19 months
Times-Picayune – May 9, 2013
The advisory group charged with keeping tabs on the $1.8 billion School Facilities Master Plan met for the first time since September 2011. The meeting was simply an orientation to get the process started again, but it was a first step in getting a handle on some important financial issues.

New Orleans Kids Partnership will launch effort to improve health and education
Times-Picayune – May 9, 2013
New Orleans Kids Partnership is launching a new network to provide free and low-cost services in Gentilly. Based at Arthur Ashe Charter School, NOKP will operate on Saturdays and holidays and provide a wide range of academic, health and wellness, and career preparation services to children and families.

Algiers leaders try to bridge divide between Walker and Landry students prior to merger
The Lens – May 6, 2013
Leaders at O. Perry Walker and L.B. Landry are working with students to ensure a smooth transition when the schools open as the combined Landry-Walker High School next fall. They have arranged for meetings between the classes of each school, and the two football teams have already begun practicing together. The Algiers Charter School Association recently received a $1 million grant from the NOLA Charter Excellence Fund to support the unification of the two schools.

Bricolage Academy awarded $1M New Schools for New Orleans grant
Uptown Messenger – May 11, 2013
Bricolage Academy, the new OPSB charter that will open this fall on the campus of Touro Synagogue, has been awarded a $1 million grant from the NOLA Charter Excellence Fund, a $30 million fund designed to create 15,000 high-quality public-school seats in the city.

RSD says ReNEW owes more than $250,000 for school meals due to paperwork problems
The Lens – May 16, 2013
The RSD says ReNEW Schools owes them hundreds of thousands of dollars for student meals. ReNEW says the meals should have been paid for through the federal government’s free and reduced lunch program, but according to the RSD, ReNEW didn’t submit the proper paperwork in time for the RSD to request the federal reimbursement.