In the News – A Student’s Point of View

A Student’s Point of View

Q&A: One Student’s Educational Saga In New Orleans
NPR reports on high school senior Whitman Wilcox, who attended five schools in nine years, beginning with an elementary school in the 9th Ward, followed by a Catholic school in Houston after Katrina, two New Orleans charters, and ending as a senior at St. Augustine’s. Whitman chooses to focus on the positive side of attending so many schools. “I think I got a benefit because I got to work and socialize with multiple types of people.” Wilcox also says he believes the school system is better now than it was before the storm. “The school in your neighborhood might not be up to par,” he says. “You might need to go a few miles away to get a quality education.”

La. Given Poor Academic Rating

Report pans La. public school performance
According to a report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Louisiana ranks among the lowest in the nation for public school performance. Louisiana received an F for academic achievement, readiness for college and careers, and international competitiveness. The group gave Louisiana a D-plus for the strength of state exams compared to national assessments, a B in teacher preparation, and an A for school choice.

National Stories

Skills Gap Bumps Up Against Vocational Taboo
U.S. manufacturing companies are having a hard time filling jobs due to a lack of qualified workers. Apprenticeship programs could help fight the so-called skills gap, but the programs are slow to catch on. Apprenticeship 2000, a program combining classroom work and on-the-job training, has drawn numerous German companies, but so far only two U.S. companies have chosen to participate.

So Bill Gates Has This Idea for a History Class …
Several years ago, Bill Gates became fascinated with an unusual college course called Big History, which wove together disparate fields, such as history, biology and astronomy, into a unifying narrative of life on earth. Since then, Gates has been working with Big History’s original professor to adapt the college course to a high school curriculum. The Big History Project is now being offered free to more than 15,000 students in 1,200 high schools across the country.

A plan to expand charter schools gains traction in Georgia
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal says he wants lawmakers to study a plan for a statewide school district that could significantly increase the number of charter schools in Georgia. Deal said legislators should consider a system, similar to Louisiana’s RSD, that gives the state more powers to take over struggling schools and convert them to charters.

Calif. Teachers’ Union Sets Sights on Charters
With more than 6,000 charter schools nationwide, teachers unions are expanding their efforts to unionize charter schools. Their success may depend on how charter schools evolve. If expanding charter networks begin to act more like large bureaucratic districts, it could create more incentives for teachers to organize.

Local News

Recovery School District downsizes from 568 employees to 92
Having closed or chartered all of its schools, the RSD now has only 92 employees in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, down from 568 last year. Much of the remaining staff is focused on managing centralized services in New Orleans, such as the school rebuilding plan, services for special needs students, OneApp, and a truancy center. The RSD’s annual budget also dropped significantly, from $147 million last year to $19.6 million this year.

Orleans Parish schools superintendent search: 26 months and counting
The search continues for a new OPSB superintendent. At its meeting last week, OPSB met in closed session for two hours to discuss the search, but it didn’t vote to invite any new candidates for interviews.

Plan to pay for repairing Orleans schools divides School Board
The Orleans Parish School Board voted 4-3 in committee in favor of asking the voters in December to extend an existing millage and allow the money from the current property tax to be used for paying off debt and for facility preservation. It would not raise anyone’s taxes, but if the measure fails, the existing tax will begin to shrink in 2016 and disappear altogether by 2021. Some board members opposed the effort, not wanting to support the RSD nor allow charter schools to have some control over how the money will be spent.

New Orleans’ Afterschool Scene Has a Transportation Problem
Each year there are more after school programs available to New Orleans students, but many of the independent, nonprofit programs don’t have the funds to provide transportation to their programs, and there is no coordinated afterschool bus system to ferry students from their schools to different program locations.

With John McDonogh, all New Orleans’ takeover schools are on the line, supporters say
OPSB agreed to present a plan to BESE for a community process that would lead to reopening John McDonogh High School. A progress report is due to BESE in October, but very little has happened. Supporters of John McDonogh say there is more at stake than the future of a single campus. If OPSB drops the ball on John Mac, they might never regain control of the other state takeover schools in New Orleans.

New Orleans charter school serving students supper to help combat hunger, TV report says
In an effort to combat hunger and help boost classroom performance, Andrew Wilson Charter School now serves free evening meals to about 100 students who regularly stay at school late in the day. These extra meals are funded in part by the No Kid Hungry campaign, which lets diners at restaurants donate to stop childhood hunger.

Former Priestley School site may be sold to Lycee Francais
This week, OPSB will be considering purchase offers for two former school sites: Lycee Francais bid $425,500 for the Priestley site, which appraised for $425,000; and the Homer Plessy School offered $400,000 for the Hansberry School, appraised at $535,000. New Orleans College Prep bid $250,000 for the Hoffman Elementary site, appraised at $1.5 million, but their offer has been deferred pending further discussion.

Miller-McCoy Academy principal leaves after one year, replaced by interim
Eric Greely, Sr. resigned as principal of Miller-McCoy Academy, the only all-boys public school in New Orleans. Achievement director Janice Bailey-Walker also resigned, according to school administrators. The school’s charter is up for renewal in late 2015.

Shout Outs!

Edna Karr makes Daily Beast’s list of Best Public High Schools
One New Orleans high school and two Jefferson Parish schools are among the top public high schools in the United States, according to The Daily Beast’s latest ranking. Edna Karr High in Algiers, Thomas Jefferson High in Gretna, and Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology Academy in Avondale are the only Louisiana schools to make the list.

Which New Orleans education entrepreneur would make the best story?
One of these five education ventures will be profiled by the Times-Picayune, and you can help decide which one it will be. Vote online until Friday, September 19 for the education entrepreneur you think will make the best story:

    • EnrichED: Energizing substitute days by dispatching a diverse corps of professionals
    • Noble Minds: Creating a school that addresses both academics and emotional health
    • PlayBuild NOLA: Teaching design concepts with construction toys on pop-up playgrounds
    • True School Studio: Helping schools reinvent themselves based on their teachers’ input
    • Whetstone Education: Compiling teacher training and job review materials on one digital platform