In the News: December 29, 2013

What’s Next for New Orleans?

New Orleans will have an all-charter school district next year
The Advocate – December 24, 2013
When the Recovery School District closes its last four direct-run schools at the end of this school year, it will become the nation’s first all-charter district. A.P. Tureaud and Benjamin Banneker are scheduled to be closed in June, and RSD’s last two direct-run high schools, Sarah T. Reed and George Washington Carver, will be phased out one year earlier than planed. The remaining schools – close to 60 – will all be run by independent nonprofits with their own boards.

New Orleans and the Road to Educational Equity
New Schools for New Orleans – December 20, 2013
Neerav Kingsland of NSNO says the charter school system in New Orleans has made real strides toward achieving educational equity. OneApp gives families fair and transparent access to nearly all public schools, and the centralized expulsion system ensures that access cannot be arbitrarily reversed once a student enrolls. In 2014-15, new weighted funding formulas in the RSD will help to cover additional costs related to serving special needs students, and NSNO is working with charters to develop high-quality settings that can meet the needs of our most at-risk students.

The permanent, dwindling Recovery School District
Times-Picayune – December 16, 2013
It’s been eight years since the state took over all but 17 of New Orleans’ public schools, raising the question of whether the Recovery School District has become a permanent part of the city’s educational landscape. The 17 charter schools eligible to switch to OPSB control this year all voted not to return. Their reasons included the lack of a permanent OPSB superintendent, recent board behavior at public meetings, questions about special education funding, and the uncertainty that comes with a locally elected board.

National Stories

Report Documents College Completion Rates
Inside Higher Ed – December 16, 2013
A new report shows that 56 percent of all first-time college students enrolled in the fall of 2007 (full or part-time) earned a degree or certificate within six years. Students with dual enrollment experience in high school had a completion rate 12 percentage points higher than the rate for students with no dual enrollment experience.

International Baccalaureate – A Possible Tool for Integrating Students?
New York Times – December 16, 2013
International Baccalaureate (I.B.) programs attract middle- and upper-middle class students, which means placing I.B. programs in schools in mixed-income or disadvantaged neighborhoods can be a powerful tool to break down concentrations of student poverty. A shout-out to Morris Jeff Community Charter School!

Evaluation of the Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten Program
Education Gadfly – December 19, 2013
A new study of Tennessee’s voluntary prekindergarten program confirmed that students in the program gained significantly more academic skills than non-participants but found that gains made in preschool essentially disappeared when measured at the end of kindergarten and again at the end of first grade.

Resources for Writing IEPs Aligned to Common-Core Standards
Education Week – December 16, 2013
If you are looking for specific examples of how to prepare Individual Education Programs (IEPs) that are aligned with Common Core reading and math standards, this list of online tools and presentations can help. It was compiled by two special education experts as a follow up to their Education Week Live Chat on this topic.

‘Blue Light’ May Impair Students’ Sleep, Studies Say
Education Week – December 10, 2013
Evidence is mounting that artificial light from the use of computers and mobile-electronics later in the day can lead to significant sleep problems. Exposure to blue light in the late afternoon and evening can disrupt sleep cycles as much as six to eight hours – the same amount of “jet lag” caused by a flight from New York City to Honolulu.

Teachers unions face moment of truth
Politico – December 8, 2013
Teachers unions are grappling with financial, legal, and public-relations challenges while fighting for the support of a skeptical public that increasingly sees unions as obstructionist, protecting members at all cost. Unions are also experiencing internal dissent, especially among younger members, with 31 percent of teachers holding a negative view of unions, up from 17 percent in 2011.

How much teachers get paid – state by state
Washington Post – December 10, 2013
In 2012-13 the average salary for public school teachers in the U.S. was $56,363. The average salary for Louisiana teachers was slightly lower at $51,381. New York teachers were the highest paid at $75,279, and South Dakota teachers were the lowest at $39,580. View a map of the state-by-state data.

Louisiana Headlines

Louisiana Voucher Program Comes Under Fire in State Audit
Education Week – December 16, 2013
A performance review by the state legislative auditor found that Louisiana’s voucher program does not properly evaluate the academic performance of participating private schools and has no mechanism in place to make sure those schools have the capacity to serve voucher students. In addition, in 2012-13, the state education department underpaid or overpaid 41% of the schools participating in the voucher program.

New public school funding formula gets key backing from Louisiana School Board Association
Times-Picayune – December 23, 2013
The MFP Task Force will vote in January on recommendations for a new formula to allocate $3.5 billion in state education spending. The 21-member task force was formed in August after the state legislature rejected BESE’s original MFP formula. The task force recommendations will include funding Course Choice in the MFP but making local districts – not the state – responsible for approving the courses students are allowed to take.

More Local News

New Orleans schools get $7.8 million in belated tax revenue
Times-Picayune – December 24, 2013
New Orleans public schools will receive an extra $7.8 million – $198 per student – from sales tax that the Orleans Parish School Board forgot to report in 2012. OPSB oversees one-fifth of the city’s 90 schools, but it collects and distributes property and sales taxes for all of them.

Recovery School District superintendent won’t seek Orleans Parish schools job
Times-Picayune – December 27, 2013
Recovery School District Superintendent Patrick Dobard says he will not apply to become the next superintendent for New Orleans Public Schools, although he has been encouraged to do so.

Sarah T. Reed High School not eligible to return to local control
Times-Picayune – December 10, 2013
In an effort to keep Sarah T. Reed High School open, community members started a campaign to use the “reverse parent trigger” law to bring the school back to local OPSB control, but Reed is not eligible for the “reverse parent trigger” because it was transferred to the RSD right after Katrina as part of Act 35. OPSB President Ira Thomas says it might be possible to reopen Reed down the line if the RSD would return control of Reed’s building to OPSB.

New Orleans high school protests reopen suspensions debate
Times-Picayune – December 20, 2013
Recent protests over discipline at several New Orleans high schools have reopened the debate over what policies and punishments are appropriate when educators seek to prepare young people for college and adulthood. High suspension rates have led some schools to try to find alternatives that will keep children in school and keep them learning.

Harrah’s Casino money to flow to New Orleans schools
Times-Picayune – December 19, 2013
The City Council has voted to release approximately $4 million in Harrah’s Casino funds to OPSB and RSD to improve schools. OPSB says it will use its share on renovations to two schools. RSD plans to use its share on repairs and upgrades, services for special education students, and an emergency fund for future repairs. The City Council has been holding payments from Harrah’s – approximately $2 million per year for at least four years – because OPSB and RSD did not present a plan to distribute the funds.

Educate Now! wishes you and yours a healthy and joyous 2014. The Times-Picayune editorial As 2013 ends, taking stock of a promising year in New Orleans captures the city’s momentum and promise as we head into 2014. Cheers!