ICYMI: Local Innovation in National Spotlight

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

Local Innovation in the National Spotlight

The Carnegie Corporation profiled EdNavigator, a local nonprofit that works with companies to identify and support working parents who need help navigating the school system and advocating for their children.

New Orleans’ own unCommon Construction won a national Teach For America 2017 Social Innovation Award. The nonprofit, which helps students earn credits and scholarships while building houses, will receive $50,000 from TFA to continue developing and expanding their reach.

Researchers estimate that New Orleans children suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder at rates three times the national average. NPR highlighted Crocker College Prep, one of five charter schools in a collective working to become more trauma-informed, and the Christian Science Monitor visited the New Orleans Therapeutic Day Program, a school that gives children with severe trauma and emotional disturbance a safe place to learn.

Career and Technical Education – A Growing National Conversation

One of the country’s largest building-supply chains, 84 Lumber, is spending millions to advertise its message that learning a trade can be worth more than earning a college diploma. The company is in the vanguard of a corporate quest to deal with the fact that skilled and high-paying blue collar jobs go unfilled while millions take on loans to pay for college degrees.

Alex Hernandez, a partner at the nonprofit Charter School Growth Fund, says career and technical education is valuable for all students, not just the ones who bypass college, because employers want skills in addition to education

New Orleans Population and Educational Attainment

The data center released a report on population trends in New Orleans as of July 2016. Here are some highlights:

  • We continue to grow:
    • Regionally, the population is back to 95% of its pre-Katrina level (1,268,883).
    • New Orleans population grew to 391,495 and is now 59% African American, 30.9% white, 5.6% Hispanic, and 3% Asian.
  • We are more educated:
    • We have reduced the number of adults with less than a high school degree from 25% in 2000 to 14% today – just 1% above the national average.
    • At the same time, the percentage of Orleans residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher rose from 26% to 36% and now exceeds the national average of 31%.
  • There are fewer children:
    • The number of households with children under 18 has declined from 30% in 2000 to 20% in 2015.
    • The population that is 18 years old or younger is down a whopping 38% – from 129,408 in 2000 to 79,676 in 2016 – a reduction of 49,732 young people!
    • The number of single households has grown from 33% to 45%.
  • Our median income is low:
    • 2015 median household incomes of $48,343 for the region and $39,077 for the city are significantly lower than the U.S. median of $55,775. 
    • The percent of children in poverty is 37%, compared to a national average of 21%.

The Affordable Care Act and Schools

The Republican health care bill is getting failing grades from red-state school leaders. Nationally, about $4 billion in Medicaid goes to local school districts to pay for health services for disabled and low income students. Superintendents and principals across the country, including red states like Kentucky, Tennessee, and South Dakota, are concerned the bill will cut this funding and are informing Congress and the public of the potential impact.

Charter School Backlash

The National Education Association has adopted a new policy statement aimed at limiting charter school growth. The NEA president stated, “Handing over students’ education to privately managed, unaccountable charters jeopardizes student success, undermines public education and harms communities.” The teachers’ union believes charter schools should prove they meet a need before being authorized, should comply with the same rules and regulations as public schools (including civil rights, labor laws, and teacher certification requirements), and should be authorized and held accountable for performance by the local school board.

Alice Huffman, the chairwoman of the NAACP Task Force on Quality Education, believes NAACP’s controversial call for a moratorium on charter schools was the correct decision and hopes to inspire a national campaign of actions against charter schools.

Voucher Update

The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that a state cannot ban public financing toward religious organizations if the funding involves a neutral public benefit, in this case a state program that funds playground resurfacing using recycled tires. Provisions banning state aid to religious organizations exist in nearly 40 states and are often the reason vouchers, education savings accounts, and other private school choice programs are prohibited. Voucher proponents praised the Supreme Court’s decision.

A recent report from Tulane’s Education Research Alliance shows students in Louisiana’s voucher program perform roughly the same as their public school peers in math and English after three years in the program.

Other National Stories

Teachers unions are preparing for a significant loss in fees and members if the Supreme Court decides next year to overrule the 40-year-old Abood decision. The Abood decision compels workers who choose not to join a union to still pay an “agency fee” to cover the costs of collective bargaining.

Millennials are moving to America’s cities according to the Urban Land Institute, and smaller cities are seeing the most relative growth. New Orleans is ranked #5 in Millennial growth, with an 8.5% increase between 2010 to 2015. Newport News, VA is ranked #1 with 16.5% growth, and Houston is ranked #19 with 3.9%.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation released a new report that makes the business case for high quality child care. The report lays out how critical early childhood education is and says early education provides the most bang for your buck relative to K-12 and beyond.

Closer to Home

Louisiana is leading the nation in the number of high school students earning college credits through the College Level Examination Program, or CLEP®. Louisiana saw a 55% increase over last year in the number of students demonstrating a mastery of introductory college-level subjects through this national program.

The Orleans Parish School Board approved a $46.7 million general fund budget, part of their $311.8 million total budget framework. This Times-Picayune article provides a good overview where the money will go and notes that most of the changes in this year’s budget reflect a transformed central office that will have to oversee the return of all public schools to local control.
Shout Outs!

This fall, at least three corps members of Teach For America in New Orleans are will be locals who graduated from public school, went on to college, and then made the decision to return to serve the community as teachers. Brent Chapin graduated from Ben Franklin and LSU and is a teacher at Andrew Wilson Charter; Erika Brown graduated from Chalmette High School and LSU and will teach at ReNEW Schaumberg Elementary; and Brianesha Johnson graduated from Sophie B. Wright and LSU and will teach at KIPP Believe College Prep.

Louisiana’s ESSA plan is one of the most promising education plans in the country, according to an analysis by the non-partisan Alliance for Excellent Education. Louisiana received high marks on 11 of 13 indicators for advancing equitable opportunities for all students. Each state is required to create a plan for educational excellence to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). View the Alliance’s ESSA Equity Dashboard for Louisiana.