ICYMI: Brown, Usdin re-elected without opposition

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

OPSB Elections and the Return of Schools

Qualifying for the School Board elections in November ended today:

  • Two incumbents are re-elected without opposition: John Brown in District 1 and Sarah Usdin in District 3.
  • One incumbent, Seth Bloom from District 5, is not seeking re-election. Two people qualified for his seat, Ben Kleban, founder of New Orleans College Prep, and Eldon “El” Anderson, who is in the music promotion business.
  • In District 2, Ethan Ashley, an executive with the Urban League, is challenging incumbent Cynthia Cade.
  • In District 4, incumbent Leslie Ellison has two challengers: attorney Morris Reed, Jr and Walter Umrani.
  • In District 6, David Alvarez is challenging incumbent Woody Koppel.
  • In District 7, incumbent Nolan Marshall also faces two challengers: Kwame Smith, who ran for the seat in 2012, and Alvin Crusto, Jr.

There’s a lot at stake in this election because with the passage of Act 91 the school board we elect this fall will set the tone for how this newly unified school district will operate.

Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. has been working with more than 100 education and community leaders on a plan for the return of schools. He released a draft of the reunification plan last week outlining how the district will take charge of RSD schools and crucial shared services, such as enrollment. OPSBhas approved a $1.5 million budget for the extra staff and resources they will need for the transition.

Community members can still weigh in on the reunification plan by emailing unification@opsb.us or sending a message through the system’s website.

Who Lives In New Orleans?

The Data Center’s latest report is worth a look. It appears there are demographic changes underway.

  • The percent of New Orleans households with children declined from 30 percent in 2000 to 19 percent in 2014. The under 18 population has declined from 129,408 to 79,432.
  • Educational attainment in Orleans has increased: The percent of adults with less than a high school degree has decreased from 25 percent to 14 percent, while the those with a bachelors degree or higher has increased from 26 percent to 36 percent, which exceeds the national average.
  • Despite these educational gains, the median household income has declined to $33,504, way below the national average of $53,657. Forty-four percent of children in the city live in poverty.
  • African Americans continue to represent the majority of city residents, but the percentage is down from 66.7 in 2000 to 58.5 in 2015. The share of Hispanics in the city increased from 3.1 percent to 5.6 percent in 2015; the share of Asians increased from 2.3 percent to 3.1 percent; and the share of whites increased from 26.6 percent to 31.3 percent.

Other Louisiana Headlines

Education Week highlights Louisiana’s “homegrown” common core curriculum, which was developed by the state’s education department in partnership with teachers and is now available for free online. New York is the only other state that has developed its own curriculum, but their materials were developed by outside publishers.

The proposed overhaul of Louisiana’s teacher training program requires a one-year internship for student-teachers, up from 10-15 weeks now. The Advocate says it’s a strong plan that has potential but there are many details that still need to be ironed out.

According to the state Attorney General, the law that allows Louisiana to convert failing public schools into charter schools requires new schools to mirror the ones they replace, both in grade configurations and attendance zones. This is potentially a big deal for the RSD’s Type 5 charters in other parts of the state, but will not impact any current Type 5 charters in Orleans.

For the first time, TOPS scholarships will not cover the full cost of tuition. Beginning this year, TOPS recipients will receive roughly 95 percent of their fall tuition and about 49 percent of their spring tuition. Governor John Bel Edwards criticized this “front loaded” plan, calling it a disingenuous budgeting gimmick.

National Stories

Louisiana and other states are rethinking the goals of post-secondary education, looking at high-value certificates (in addition to degrees) that provide more opportunities for students.

Four proposed charter schools in Mississippi are in the last round of the state’s application process, including a high school that would be operated by New Orleans-based Collegiate Academies.

More Local News

Ben Kleban shares how New Orleans College Prep cut its suspension rates in half by implementing a more personalized, restorative approach to school discipline.

Any freshman who enrolls at Cohen College Prep next year will receive a $500 scholarship upon graduation.

For families that are new to New Orleans, the Times-Picayune outlines how to enroll your child in public school.

Shout Outs!

Loyola University’s Alumni Association honored Anthony Recasner with its highest award, the Adjutor Hominum Award, which celebrates moral character, service to humanity, and integrity. Tony was an education leader for over 20 years, helping to found FirstLine Schools and the city’s first charter school, before joining Agenda for Children as its CEO.

The Louisiana Department of Education announced the 2017 Teachers of the Year and Principals of the Year. Joey LaRoche of KIPP was named High School Principal of the Year.