Louisiana was once again passed over in the U.S. Department of Educations's "Race To The Top" competition. The state was one of 19 finalists in the second round of the competition. The 10 winners announced this morning are the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island.
R2T awards states that best present plans for school innovation based on criteria set by the federal government. For the second and final round, the winning states will share $3.4 billion in funding to implement their plans. Delaware and Tennessee were the only winners in the first round of the competition. Louisiana had high hopes for the program, with state Superintendent Paul Pastorek advocating for system reforms he felt would better the state's chances. Lafayette was one of 28 total school districts participating in the state's application for R2T.
The availability of the funding nonetheless unleashed a wave of reforms nationwide — including in Louisiana, which instituted new teacher accountability and school board reform measures — as states raced to make their applications more attractive.
Despite the snub from Uncle Sam, Pastorek today insists in a press release that Louisiana’s momentum toward education reform will not be abated:
While we had hoped for a different outcome, make no mistake about it, Louisiana is already in the midst of implementing this plan at every level and from every angle, and we have no intention of pulling back. We will have to identify alternative sources of resources. But there is broad acknowledgement across the country, and even across the world, that Louisiana is a trailblazer in implementing effective education reform strategies. And there is wide scale recognition across Louisiana’s education community, particularly in those districts and schools that signed on to our application, that this plan is integral to improving our schools. In fact, our reform plan is the result of the deep-rooted commitment of educators in our state to adopt and implement meaningful and necessary reforms. And given their dedication to their students, we’ll not see them back off these objectives either.
One possible knock on Louisiana’s application was Lafayette Parish’s insistence on an opt-out clause in its R2T application, which Pastorek’s office warned would diminish the quality of the state’s bid since one of Louisiana’s biggest school systems wasn’t embracing the process. Pastorek has enjoyed a chilly relationship with many school systems statewide, and has been the subject of much ire from the Louisiana School Boards Association as well as some teacher unions.
Nonetheless, today’s announcement by the federal government prompted a rare dose of accord among the state education department and three major educator groups.
From the same press release:
The Louisiana Federation of Teachers remains committed to including educator voice and involvement in any initiatives that affect our profession. Despite this development, we will continue to partner with the state and local school districts in achieving our goal of a quality education for all children. — LFT President Steve Monaghan
Louisiana principals are committed to our state’s education reform plan. Our support was not contingent on winning. Certainly, with today’s announcement, our work may be more difficult, but we believe the time is now. We will execute this plan and realize dramatic improvements in student outcomes. — Andrea Martin, executive director, Louisiana Association of Principals
I’ve been moved by the commitment of educators to this bold plan for improving support to the classroom and students. This is our state’s education reform plan, and it will be our strategy for improving academic performance. I am proud to still be part of this process. — Kathy Campbell, executive director of the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana
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APR 18 So Gov. Jindal's new press secretary already has blocked blogger CB Forgotston from her Twitter account, CB tells us in this post. Sure, CB hasn't exactly been sugar sweet to the lady, but if his blogs are all it takes for her to get in a huff she better find some intestinal fortitude somewhere, because that's just the tip of the iceberg.
APR 18 Pooyie! Robert Kennedy Jr. isn't pulling any punches in this column on Huffington Post about the flood board's lawsuit against Big Oil and Bobby Jindal's involvement in efforts to kill it. Kennedy, who is president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, describes Jindal as 'genuflecting to Big Oil's pressure' and 'the industry's chief indentured servant.' Dang!
APR 18 Here's a video of UL Coach Mark Hudspeth showing he can pump some serious iron. It sure impressed the Dr. Saturday blog, which calls his press of 370 pounds a "ridiculous" number for a coach -- and opines that no other college coach could beat ours.
APR 18 Columnist John Maginnis offers some advice to Vance McAllister on this post: Don't quit. Republicans have demanded he resign, but offer no "sensible answer" to the question of why David Vitter shouldn't leave, too, he says. McAllister needs to do his duty and serve out his (abbreviated) term, Maginnis says.
APR 18 Blogger Lamar White Jr. comments upon the plan to make a Bible Louisiana's "official book" in this post. He argues his point by telling us the story of an immigrant couple who moved to Louisiana: Amar and Raj, whose oldest child is now our Governor. This action would have a much larger impact, he opines.
APR 18 There's only one major bill left defending public education, blogger Mike Deshotels writes in this post. He's also got a few choice words for state Superintendent John White, who implies that Louisiana teachers would be thrown into chaos and disarray if they didn't have a test to teach. (Maybe kids would actually get an education then? Nah!)
APR 18 An effort to set up speed cameras on the Interstate has been shut down before it even got started, columnist Stephanie Grace tells us in this post. A bill to block the practice is sailing through the legislature -- where apparently no one wants visitors to our fair state to arrive home to a ticket. (These guys must never drive on I-10 with people from Texas).
APR 18 Blogger Tom Aswell reassures everyone worried about the staffers for Rodney Alexander -- the ones who didn't go to work for McAllister or Candid Camera, anyway -- with this post. Apparently one staffer for the retired Congressman (who also worked for a preacher accused of sexual assault) already has been hired by Alexander in the state department he now runs, Aswell says.
APR 17 At the start of the Tuesday board meeting that ended with his removal from the President's post, Joe Aguillard told the governing board of Louisiana College that SACS, the accreditation agency, requires the board to adopt a confidentiality agreement regarding board actions. Later that day, SACS told the Town Talk that confidentiality agreements would never be required. Calvinist or not, isn't lying wrong?
APR 17 Here we are, looking like backwater dummies again in the national media. This story on Huffington Post tells the nation that our legislators are so scared of the Louisiana Family Forum that they won't vote to repeal a law that was ruled illegal years ago. (Guess these particular Christians don't cotton to that "love one another" thing.)
APR 17 Here's an interesting column from Paul Stanley, political opinion editor of the Christian Post. He breaks down the differences between David Vitter and Vance McAllister, in terms of political realities. What he found surprising was the fact that many GOP leaders are swinging a self-righteous sword at McAllister which had remained sheathed when Vitter's "sin" was revealed. He does have an interesting theory -- that Jindal's people want the Vitter issue to be revived.
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