The near impossible federal No Child Left Behind provision that all students be proficient in reading and math by 2014 has been eliminated for Louisiana, as the state was among the eight states winning approval from the U.S. Education Department this week on its alternative plan for public education without the red tape attached to the signature federal education law.
According to a release from the state Department of Education, “the federal waivers allow districts and schools to exercise flexibility from federal regulations, in exchange for instituting rigorous accountability systems.”
Louisiana was among 26 states applying for NCLB relief this go-around, which leaves 18 applications still pending with the U.S. Department of Education. Eleven states had previously been granted waivers before U.S. DOE's latest announcement.
“Louisiana’s approved waiver sets new standards for student performance and holds adults accountable for high levels of achievement,” state Superintendent of Education John White says in a prepared statement. “At the same time, our approved waiver empowers districts and schools by giving their leaders flexibility to choose how to spend their dollars and relieving them from burdensome regulations that too often take attention away from the classroom.”
The waiver will give the state full leverage over how to spend roughly $375 million in federal funds that were previously earmarked mostly for Title I programming, which targets low-income students.
LDOE, in a release announcing the waiver, outlines several significant changes in the way Louisiana will handle public education following the recent waiver approval from the feds:
-Aligns with Common Core levels of rigor: K-8 schools will no longer earn points for students who score below proficient on state tests (e.g., Basic on LEAP/iLEAP). The high school system further places value on the ACT, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate examinations, which align to Common Core rigor.
-Focuses schools on students below grade level: A new value-added system will reward schools for effectively advancing the progress of students who are below grade level. (Currently, 225,000 students are below grade level in Louisiana.)
-Allows priority high schools (high schools transferred to the jurisdiction of the Recovery School District) with graduation rates below 60 [percent] to be served with Title I funds regardless of rank order.
-Removes the requirement to spend 20 [percent] of Title I on Supplemental Education Services.
-Removes the requirement to spend 10 [percent] of Title I funds on professional development.
-Allows Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to redirect Title I dollars to concentrate on funding activities that will positively impact student performance.
-Allows for the removal of federally-created bureaucratic burdens on district and school leaders. Effective immediately, districts will no longer need to submit burdensome federal reports, such as 1003(a) School Improvement Plans or Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT) Target Improvement Plans.
The news from the U.S. Education Department garnered a wide range of support for Louisiana’s NCLB waiver effort, including statements from U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and the head of the Louisiana School Boards Association.
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.