In the News: November 25, 2013

Best in the World

National Geographic names New Orleans one of 20 top travel destinations in the world
Times-Picayune – November 22, 2013
National Geographic Traveler magazine named New Orleans one of its 20 most recommended places to visit in the world for 2014. Only one other location in the United States, Rocky Mountain National Park, made the list. The magazine said the list reflects “what’s authentic, culturally rich, sustainable and superlative in the world of travel today.” New Orleans was praised not just for its history but also for the revitalization of its local neighborhoods.

Consultant to OPSB: Clean Up Your Act

Orleans Parish School Board must clean up its act to find a good leader, consultant says
Times-Picayune – November 19, 2013
The firm hired by OPSB to find the next School Superintendent said OPSB needs to address some serious issues – micromanagement, bickering, focus on non-classroom matters, and the lack of a cohesive strategic plan – before it interviews a single candidate. Lead consultant Bill Attea told OPSB otherwise, “you’re not going to hire the type of candidate you need.” Attea also said there was general agreement in the community that the school board’s dysfunction is keeping RSD schools from choosing to return to local control. Read the full report.

And … Play by the Rules

Two New Orleans high schools said they were ‘full’ — then enrolled more students
Times-Picayune – November 22, 2013
Two OPSB direct-run high schools – McMain and McDonogh 35 – dropped out of OneApp after the first round saying they had more applicants than seats. The two schools turned away 538 aspiring 9th graders in round one and refused another 337 applicants from round two. After leaving One App in July, the two schools then enrolled 85 freshmen who applied directly to the schools. McMain and McDonogh 35 are supposed to be open-admissions schools, but their actions have raised concerns that they are cherry-picking their students.

Hope Endures at The NET

At school that’s lost five students to violence in five months, hope endures
Times-Picayune – November 22, 2013
The NET Charter School actively recruits troubled students, many of whom were expelled or dropped out of other high schools. In the past five months, five NET students have been victims of gun violence, but the school’s staff and teachers still believe in their mission, and they find hope in the 26 students who have graduated since the school opened and in the 150 students who choose to return day after day determined to build a better future for themselves.

Common Core Changes in Louisiana

White announces Common Core changes
The Advocate – November 24, 2013
State Superintendent of Education John White has proposed changes to the implementation of Common Core in Louisiana. White recommends that during the transition in 2014 and 2015: public schools be graded on a curve, maintaining the same percentage of schools receiving As, Bs and Cs; teachers be evaluated without considering growth in student achievement; new tests in 2015 be applied only to grades 3-8, not high school; local districts be allowed to promote 4th graders who don’t earn the required score on state tests if they believe the student is prepared; and 8th graders who fail to meet the promotional standard be moved to high school as “transitional” 9th graders required to do remedial work.

Common Core promotion proposal sparks dispute
The Advocate – November 24, 2013
Some educators are worried that Superintendent John White’s plan for transitional 9th graders will create more problems than it will solve. White says he’s trying to keep students from getting “stuck” in 8th grade during the transition to tougher standards, especially when 40% of students held back in 8th grade never reach high school. Opponents say some students need more than just remedial assistance, and moving unprepared students to a high school campus could mean just pushing the problem forward.

Voucher Updates

Judge opens door for greater federal scrutiny of Jindal’s voucher program
The Advocate – November 25, 2013
It appears that Louisiana’s voucher program will continue, but a U.S. District Court Judge has ordered the state to work with the Justice Department to come up with a plan that allows the Justice Department to review voucher assignments before they go out to families to make sure they don’t result in increased segregation.

Former school voucher foe heads pro-voucher group
The Advocate – November 25, 2013
Former State Senator Ann Duplessis has been named President of the Louisiana Federation for Children, a group that supports private school vouchers. While once a vocal opponent of vouchers, Duplessis sponsored the 2008 Senate bill authorizing a pilot voucher program in Orleans Parish.

Religious Schools Struggle As Charters Expand in Urban Centers, Report Says
Education Week – November 20, 2013
A report from the National Commission of Faith Based Schools details the steady decline of religious schools in urban centers in part because of competitive pressures from charter schools. The report argues that expanding vouchers is the key to preserving faith-based educational institutions.

National Stories

Struggling 1st Graders Make Strides Under Reading Recovery, i3 Study Finds
Education Week – November 20, 2013
Results from the expansion of the Reading Recovery intervention program are promising. Students who entered first grade with limited reading skills made substantial progress in both reading and comprehension, gaining nearly 30% more learning during the year than the average 1st grader nationally. The program has been around for almost three decades but was scaled up in 2011-12 with a large federal Investing in Education (i3) grant.

D.C. preparing a new unified enrollment lottery for its traditional and charter schools
Washington Post – November 19, 2013
The District of Columbia is implementing a new, unified enrollment system for all of its traditional schools and most of its charter schools. The district hopes that the streamlined process will make school enrollment less chaotic and frustrating for families. They are using the same team that created the OneApp program in New Orleans.

Arne Duncan’s ‘White, Suburban Mom’
Education Week – November 18, 2013
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan created a firestorm recently when he said that some opposition to Common Core is coming from “white, suburban moms” who all of a sudden discover their kids aren’t as “brilliant as they thought they were.” Duncan’s point – that current academic standards are dummied down, leading to an inflated sense of how good U.S. schools are – isn’t a new one, but he has apologized for what he called “clumsy phrasing.”

‘Substantial’ Declines Found in Children’s Cardiovascular Fitness Worldwide
Education Week – November 19, 2013
An analysis of fitness studies from 1964 to 2010 shows that children worldwide are 15% worse off in terms of cardiovascular fitness than their parents were back when they were young. In the United States, children’s cardiovascular fitness fell an average of 6% per decade between 1970 and 2000.

Great teachers can teach more students, even without raising class sizes
Education Gadfly – November 20, 2013
A recent study found that moving just six students to the most effective 8th grade science and math teachers would have an impact equivalent to removing the bottom 5% of teachers. Education Gadfly says that removing the poorest performing teachers could free up funds to pay effective teachers more and hire paraprofessionals to assist effective teachers.

Shout Outs

Principal Mary Laurie, Liberty Bank chief recognized in New Orleans school awards
Times-Picayune – November 17, 2013
The Orleans Public Education Network (OPEN) presented its first ever Public Education Awards. Mary Laurie, Principal at Landry-Walker High School, received OPEN’s Endurance Impact Award for her work in turning schools around and training other successful principals. Alden McDonald, President and CEO of Liberty Bank, received the Distinguished Product of New Orleans Schools Award, and four charter schools were recognized for their academic success – Martin Behrman Elementary, New Orleans Charter Science and Math High School, McDonogh 32, and Sophie B. Wright.

New Orleans high school business contest selects eight campuses to develop ideas
Times-Picayune – November 21, 2013
Five New Orleans public high schools will compete in this year’s Trust Your Crazy Ideas Challenge – Cohen College Prep, Edna Karr, International High School, Lusher, and New Orleans Charter Science and Math. Teams from each school will devise a technical solution to a problem in their community, and the winning team will receive a $10,000 donation to their school from the Brees Dream Foundation.

Educate Now! wishes you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving!