State super outlines shift to ‘fundamentally different’ standards
White was on hand at the Lafayette Parish School Board Wednesday to discuss the plan and hear from board members, something he’s done and will continue to do for school boards across the state as Louisiana moves forward with the new measures to increase student achievement.
The state education superintendent told board members that Louisiana is moving toward “fundamentally different” standards for students and educators alike, noting that the state’s shift to Common Core Standards means Louisiana’s public education system will be ranked among the 46 other states making the same transition to Common Core.
“It’s not going to be, ‘How did Lafayette do? Or how did Vermilion do? It’s going to be how did Oklahoma do? How did Massachusetts do?” White explained. “We’ve got two years to make the shift to, ‘How did Louisiana do?’ with exactly the same test, exactly the same bar as the 46 other states implementing these standards.”
White also touted the state’s new course choice program, which allows businesses, colleges and other online educators to offer courses outside of the traditional school setting, as a way “open up avenues for industry itself to come in and begin the training of future employees — for high school credit — trained by the people who best know what the workforce needs are.”
Taking a minute to dispel what he called myths coming out of Act 1 and the legislative session, which among other measures makes it harder for teachers to earn tenure, White said contrary to rumor, “it does nothing to reduce teachers’ salaries or retirement.”
“Current teachers who have tenure are not affected,” White said. “No one loses their tenure status. Teachers with ineffective ratings lose their tenure, but they have the opportunity to get it back. And no teacher loses their job after one ineffective rating.”
As expected, board members had questions about the state’s new voucher program that funnels public school dollars to private schools who accept low-income students from failing public schools. The voucher program has been among the most controversial pillars of Jindal’s education reform.
Board member Mark Babineaux questioned whether voucher schools will have to undergo the same teacher evaluation system as public schools, to which White said no. White explained that all public school students attending voucher schools will be required to take the same standardized tests administered in public schools, and voucher schools with 40 or more students will earn a performance score based mostly on test scores and a few other factors, much like public schools. If the private school’s performance score falls below the outlined benchmark, the school will not be allowed to accept more voucher students.
“Traditional schools have to be at an F for four years before going into Recovery School District. Private schools that aren’t acceptable for one year don’t get to accept new kids into the program,” White explained. “Same bar, swifter accountability.”
But voucher schools accepting fewer than 40 students will not face the same consequences. As widely reported when White announced the voucher accountability plan in July, private schools with less than 40 voucher students — roughly 75 percent of the schools on the voucher list — will only have to publish their voucher students’ standardized test scores. There are no automatic repercussions for private schools with poor test scores if they take in fewer than 40 students.
The state super offered repeated praise to Lafayette Parish for its own district turnaround plan as crafted under the direction of Superintendent Pat Cooper.
“I can’t think of anything more exciting,” he said.
MAY 22 This post was written the day after the second line shooting in NOLA, by Brentin Mock. Mock is a friend of Deb "Big Red" Cotton, a blogger who was shot in the back and was seriously injured. It is a raw, emotional piece of writing, something the writer obviously felt he needed to get off his chest. But it raises questions that can't be easily dismissed, and might give some insight into where the source of these events truly is.
MAY 22 In this Baton Rouge Business Report post, Rolfe McCollister considers the privatization of bus service in Baton Rouge. After decades of under-funding, it is a mess, and although a tax (partially) passed last year, improvement hasn't happened yet. McCollister apparently feels it is time to let private business get in on the transit business.
MAY 22 This post on Bayou Buzz by Jeff Crouere urges the defeat of a bill that would grant modest pay increases over the next several years to the state's judges and clerks of court. The state is in no position to fund pay hikes, Crouere argues, with the pay increases costing a total of $9 million over several years. It sends the wrong message to the (proverbial) hard-working people of Louisiana, he says.
MAY 22 The Advocate reports here that State Treasurer John Kennedy is complaining about a meeting of the corporation that oversees the state's tobacco settlement. The Governor wanted it restructured, and he has some support, but not a lot. The corporation agreed with his plan, but Kennedy didn't, and it appears that the meeting was noticed in a manner completely different than that of all previous meetings. Kennedy's given to hyperbole, but in this case the fish don't smell too fresh.
MAY 22 In this Advocate story, Carencro Police Chief Carlos Stout says the recent federal indictment of a strip club owner is all wrong. The indictment alleges that drugs and prostitution went on with impunity because club staff made arrangements with "local" police. Stout says it never happened, and while his cops do work security in the parking lot, they're not allowed inside.
MAY 22 This amusing post in DIG Baton Rouge recounts an ad that ran on Craig's List recently; the advertiser was seeking tenants for a Beauregard Town house. He knew his market, and wrote an ad that the most ironical hipster couldn't resist. Apparently, he really did know his market, because the ad worked like a charm.
MAY 22 In this post in The Lens, Mark Moseley comments on the rhetoric Gov. Jindal employed in trying to save his tax "reform" package. One interesting point concerns Jindal's use of his brother, Nikesh, in a little story. Nikesh left Louisiana because of his inability to get a decent job, the story goes, but the story won't hold water: Nikesh lives in DC, which has an income tax level comparable to Louisiana, Moseley says. If income taxes caused the dismal situation, it should exist in DC too. Right?
MAY 22 This post by columnist John Maginnis traces the trajectory of the bill that would fund construction at community and technical colleges -- and bypass the Board of Regents and traditional higher ed funding mechanisms. Sure, it will bust the legislature's self-imposed debt limit, but some leges feel that there's more need (because there is more growth) in the community and technical college area than in the university area, he says.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
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.