In the News – New Orleans Named a “Smart City”

Smart New Orleans

Smart Cities: New Orleans
Tom Vander Ark of Getting Smart has named New Orleans one of its “Smart Cities.” Vander Ark says the combination of innovative schools, a focus on talent development and recruitment, investments in individualized learning, EdTech startups, and the entrepreneurial environment is improving student performance and empowering parents. The innovation and success in New Orleans is “one of the best examples of what’s possible in urban education.”

Success in the New Economy

How Prospective College Students Can Gain a Competitive Advantage
If you have 10 minutes, watch this video – It is excellent! It makes a compelling case for students to explore career choices early, make informed decisions when declaring their college goals, and consider acquiring technical skills with real-world applications in tandem with a classic education.

Need for Better Counseling in High School to Post-Secondary Transition

Louisiana students leave millions of dollars on the table for college, researchers say
Last year, only 50% of the state’s high school seniors filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). FAFSA is required for a number of public grants and scholarships, including federal Pell grants and, for most students, Louisiana’s TOPS scholarships. In New Orleans, only 42% of public school seniors completed the FAFSA. The top five high schools were Franklin, Lusher, International High School, Karr and Sci Academy. Editor’s note: We can do better than this!

Is college worth it?
Is college worth it? Research from PayScale finds some degrees pay for themselves, but others definitely don’t. After 20 years, an engineering graduate from the University of California, Berkeley is nearly $1 million better off than someone who never went to college. Even the least lucrative engineering degrees generated a 20-year return of almost $500,000, but arts degrees are more problematic. Of the 153 arts degrees in the PayScale study, 46 generated a return on investment worse than a 20-year treasury bill, and 18 generated a return of less than zero.

In Honor of LEAP testing

25 Awesome Answers
Kids say the darndest things. The answers to these 25 test questions will leave you smiling.

Common Core has students writing – on just about every subject
Much to the delight of writing enthusiasts, Common Core stresses the importance of writing across all subject areas. The standards also emphasize analytical, evidence-based writing, even in the youngest grades, to better prepare students for the kind of writing they will face in college and the workforce. Teachers at Belle Chasse Primary say their students are enjoying the challenge, but the teachers are working hard to be sure the focus on analytical writing doesn’t stifle creativity and discourage students who aren’t strong readers.

Math Group Releases Guidance on Common-Core Teaching Practices
A new book from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics describes specifically what teachers and education leaders should do to help students meet the Common Core math requirements. It explains in one coherent document the daily teaching practices needed to ensure kids develop the conceptual understanding and the ability to use the mathematical practices called for by Common Core.

Louisiana Headlines

Students in impoverished schools less likely to have effective teachers, new report states
A study of public schools in Louisiana and Massachusetts found that students in high-poverty schools are almost three times more likely to have an ineffective teacher than students in a wealthier school. Students in schools with high minority enrollment are also more likely to have an ineffective teacher. For Louisiana, the study looked at 1,265 of 1,405 public schools.

Schools superintendent election back on the Louisiana Legislature’s agenda
Louisiana’s House Education Committee voted in favor of two different pieces of legislation that would make Superintendent of Education an elected position instead of a BESE appointment. The first proposal would have to pass the Louisiana Legislature by a two-thirds majority. The second proposal is a constitutional amendment and would also have to be approved by Louisiana voters. Opponents of the legislation say it doesn’t make sense to have an elected state school board (BESE) and an elected superintendent.

‘Crazy Crawfish’ education blogger to challenge Chas Roemer for BESE seat
Jason France, who writes the Louisiana education blog “Crazy Crawfish,” announced that he will challenge Chas Roemer in 2015 for a Baton Rouge-area seat on the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. France is a former Education Department staffer, and he is strongly opposed to many of Louisiana’s education reforms.

National Stories

Bipartisan Charter, Research Bills Sail Through House Education Committee
The House education panel has given bipartisan approval to two education bills. The first is aimed at growing more high-quality charters, with grants to help charter developers open new schools and funds to help charters find and fix up facilities. It also allows districts to give disadvantaged students – students with disabilities, English language learners and others – a leg-up in charter lotteries. The second bill calls for new or improved data collection in areas such as high school graduation rates, school safety, discipline, and teacher preparation and evaluation and would give educators a stronger voice in setting research policy.

Local News

In Orleans Parish schools superintendent search, Diane Roussel, two others apply
Three more candidates have applied to be the Superintendent of New Orleans Public Schools: Diane Roussel McDonald, the former Jefferson Parish superintendent, Herman Brister, associate superintendent in the East Baton Rouge school system, and Waveline Bennett-Conroy, a schools administrator in Mount Vernon, N.Y. In addition, OPSB’s search firm says it has identified other potential candidates that it is going to contact.

Applicants to parish public schools find out where – if? – they got in
Last week thousands of New Orleans public school students found out if they got into the school of their choice. Placement letters have gone out from OneApp, the city’s common application process, and from at least four of the nine OPSB schools that don’t participate in OneApp. For students who don’t like their placement, there is a second round of OneApp with an application deadline of May 9, and some of the nine non-OneApp schools are also accepting late applications.

New charters — not new superintendent — considered by Orleans Parish School Board
OPSB is reviewing applications from six groups that have applied to open eight new charter schools in New Orleans. OPSB is also forming an ad hoc committee to work on persuading RSD charter schools to return to local control.

Map: New Orleans public schools and where they’re going
New Orleans’ public school programs have been moving around for years thanks to Hurricane Katrina and the ensuing $1.8 billion facilities rebuilding plan. The Times-Picayune has created this map, which shows all of the schools at their current locations and where each program will end up.