Latest on OPSB Elections
One week after qualifying ended for November’s OPSB elections, one incumbent has been disqualified and three candidates have been elected without opposition.
Cynthia Cade was disqualified by a Civil District Court Judge who said she did not file her tax forms and signed false certification papers claiming that she had. Cade, who represents District 2 (Gentilly, New Orleans East), has 24 hours to appeal the decision. If the decision is not reversed, Ethan Ashley of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans will become the representative for District 2 when the new board takes office in January.
Ben Kleban was the latest candidate to be elected outright when his opponent, Eldon Anderson, withdrew. Kleban, who is the founder and president of the New Orleans College Prep charter school network, will represent the 5th District (Uptown).
Two incumbents, John Brown and Sarah Usdin, were elected without opposition when no one else qualified by the deadline. Brown represents District 1 (New Orleans East, Lower 9th Ward) and Usdin represents District 3 (Lakeview, Gentilly).
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, and in District 7, incumbent Nolan Marshall also faces two challengers: Kwame Smith, who ran for the seat in 2012, and Alvin Crusto, Jr.
In Other News
The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) will be reviewing key public education policies as part of the Every Child Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaces No Child Left Behind. Supt. John White just completed a Listening Tour, where he got public feedback on issues to be addressed, including what tests students take, how schools will be judged, how to best turnaround the lowest performing 100 schools in the state, and how teachers should be supported. If you missed the initial meetings, you can view thesuperintendent’s presentation, which is very informative. A video of the meetings will be uploaded to the state’s ESSA webpage. Comments can be sent to ESSALouisiana@la.gov or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although BESE and LDOE will be responsible for submitting Louisiana’s ESSA plan to the U.S. Department of Education, Gov. John Bel Edwards has created a “rival” advisory panel to also make recommendations for ESSA changes in public school policies.
The New Orleans City Council approved the Safe Routes to School Initiative to “increase safety for students going to and coming from school by identifying troubled traffic corridors, developing guidelines to improve safety in those corridors, and developing a citywide school safety campaign.”
A total of 199 students have been wait-listed for vouchers at New Orleans-area private and Catholic schools. The voucher program experienced its first budget cut this year, knocking out about one-third of the new students who hoped to join the program.
The New Beginnings School Foundation has hired Michelle Blouin-Williams as CEO. Blouin-Williams spent the last year as the chief academic officer for Orleans Parish public schools and served as the chief academic officer and the acting superintendent for Jefferson Parish schools prior to joining OPSB. She will oversee Lake Area New Tech Early College High School and Capdau, Gentilly Terrace and Medard Nelson elementary schools.
A new study of the best and worst public education systems in the country ranked Louisiana last. Students in Louisiana ranked 48th in math, 48th in reading, and 47th in average ACT scores, a measure of college readiness. The state finished 30th in student/teacher ratios, 33rd in school safety, and 37th in the percentage of licensed/certified teachers. Brigitte Nieland of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry said the study shows that while students here have made progress, so have other states.