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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OCT 30 If you're a Louisiana native of (ahem) a certain age, you might have fond (or fuzzy, as the case may be) memories of a Zebra concert and singing "Who's Behind the Door" until your ears rang. This post on NOLA Defender profiles the leader of that band, Randy Jackson.
OCT 30 The National Journal offers this analysis of Bobby Jindal's willingness to stump in any Senate campaign that's not in Louisiana. Why is that? The Journal asks some GOPers and finds that the answer is one we already know: he's so unpopular here, because he's been so busy running for President, that his support might be "toxic."
OCT 30 If you're not obsessed with the Texas governor's race - what's wrong with you? Here's another installment, from our own IND contributor Lamar White Jr., who explains why Wendy's "infamous" wheelchair ad was a shock to the national media - but not to anyone familiar with Greg Abbott's record.
OCT 30 Blogger Tom Aswell is still all over the OGB mess - and all by himself, apparently. In this post, he's revealing orders from the Jindal administration to destroy records from the state employee health insurance plan. Those orders (he's heard) have angered the Secretary of State and caused an administration lawyer to quit her job. Wow!
OCT 30 Blogger Crazy Crawfish is taking aim at state Superintendent John White again, this time for comments White made recently, claiming that there is no real opposition to Common Core in Louisiana. Crawfish is documenting proof to the contrary here, and lays down the gauntlet to "mainstream news media." (Don't hold your breath on that one, buddy.)
OCT 30 Gambit covers Advocate publisher John Georges' recent visit to Loyola in this post. Georges touches on how things are going in this new gig, what he thinks about the Pic's decision to move printing to Alabama, and how he feels about his political campaigns.
OCT 30 A NOLA lady has alleged she was drugged and raped at a Bywater club that had a clothing-optional policy until recently, and she's now become the victim of a smear campaign, columnist Jarvis DeBerry writes in this post. She chose to reveal her story and her name, and she's being punished for that now, he says.
OCT 30 BESE member Lottie Beebe pens this letter to the editor of the Advocate about the state Department of Education. The DOE isn't exempt from the state public records law, and because of recent lawsuits she tried to require regular reports about how many requests had been made to the department and how many remained unanswered. She wasn't successful.
OCT 29 Manny Schewitz blogs on Forward Progressives about recent Facebook posts from David Vitter, including one that purports to take you to a petition to stop Ebola (say what?) but actually signs you up for his newsletter or campaign email list or some such nonsense. Dave must think we're dummies, Manny says -- and Dave's probably right.
OCT 29 Usually, the copy on Red Shtick is satire. But in this post "from the publisher," we get a pretty astute political analysis of Edwin Edwards' charisma and old-school populist swagger. Edwards isn't concealing billionaire backers, or trying to make his opponent out to be "Satan," the post says. He's just running. Huh; imagine that.
OCT 29 Salon's Elias Isquith writes this fairly hilarious commentary on a National Review post about Bobby Jindal's attempts to "beef up" in preparation for a presidential run. But it's not just funny; Isquith seems to have Bobby's number, commenting on how the Gov "and his team are hopelessly ensconced in the Tea Party bubble."
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