ICYMI: Catching up on the news

In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) … Your mini news clippings

Louisiana Headlines

The Senate Finance Committee approved a budget plan that funds TOPS at 70% and cuts a total of $38 million from K-12 schools to help fund colleges, universities and medical schools. This plan has gone to the full Senate for approval. If this latest version of the budget is approved, the $44.2 million that K-12 received last year for teacher pay raises (outside of the MFP) is reduced to $6.2 million. 

Beginning in 2017, Louisiana public schools will be required to teach cursive writing through 12th grade.

The end of the Common Core war: Louisiana lawmakers signed off on the Louisiana Student Standards, which replace the Common Core State Standards. To help with implementation, the Louisiana Department of Education has provided tools and resources for schools and districts.

A new law will reduce the ways charter schools can be authorized. Local school boards and BESE will still be able to authorize new charters, but the option (never used) for the state to approve other local groups as charter authorizers will be eliminated.

Local News

OPSB and RSD have revised the geographic zones for public schools. The new zones are more demographically balanced and are based on zip codes to make them easier for families to understand. While school choice in New Orleans means students aren’t guaranteed a seat at a neighborhood school, students who live in a school’s geographic zone are given priority enrollment, and up to 50% of open seats are reserved for students who live in the geographic zone.

An independent monitor found New Orleans schools are making progress in special education.

OPSB unanimously reaffirmed its support for the differentiated funding formula. Earlier this month, a federal judge refused to dismiss Lusher and Lake Forest’s lawsuit against OPSB over changes in the school funding formula, and a full hearing on the case will be held in August.

The Times-Picayune examined the admissions processes at Audubon, Lake Forest and Lusher and asked if their complicated requirements discriminate against disadvantaged families. Lusher’s Kathy Riedlingeraddressed some of the criticism in a rare interview with The Advocate.

Many middle class families applied for public preschool, but there was no room because the majority of preschool seats are reserved for lower-income families. In response, some charter schools are adding more tuition-based seats to meet the demand.

Union Update

Teachers at the International High School voted 26-18 in favor of unionizing and allowing United Teachers of New Orleans to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement on their behalf.

The teachers and governing board of Morris Jeff Community School have ratified the charter school’s first union contract. According to Pete Cook, not much will change for teachers at the school.

International High School and Lusher are appealing the National Labor Relations Board ruling, arguing they are government bodies and not under the jurisdiction of the labor board, which gave the union authority to hold elections at each of the schools.

New Orleans in the National News

Washington, D.C., and New Orleans are addressing excessive discipline policies while respecting school autonomy, according to a report from the Center for Reinventing Public Education.

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on New Orleans public schools, State Superintendent John White says our new governance model reconceives power in education. The model maintains the independence of nonprofit charter schools to make decisions on behalf of their students; protects the rights of parents to seek admission to any school; and transforms the local school board and its central office from a disorganized instrument of political interests to a strong regulator focused on school performance and student rights.

Workforce Preparation

Realizing many poor and minority students struggle to find a job after college, a former New Orleans teacher founded a national program that’s making a difference. Her nonprofit brings professionals from the working world into university classrooms for a 15-week program that provides coaching and helps students learn how to network.

A new study found 46% of managers believe Millennials are unprepared or minimally prepared for the workforce and are lacking important job skills, such as critical thinking, writing proficiency, and attention to detail. Only 12% of Millennials said they were unprepared or minimally prepared.

YouthForce NOLA is Hiring

YouthForce NOLA is looking for qualified candidates for two new positions: A Director of School Support, who will manage YouthForce NOLA’s partnerships with schools, and a Program Coordinator, who will help coordinate the efforts of several different teams on a variety of initiatives. Interested applicants should email a resume and cover letter to YouthForce@educatenow.net and include the job title in the email subject line. For more on YouthForce NOLA, visit the YouthForce NOLA page on Educate Now!’s website.