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 24 You gotta love it when they start eating their young, right? In this post in Politico, BP mouthpiece Geoff Morrell denies that his company's oil spill "ruined the Gulf." Instead, he says, it was Bobby Jindal's decision to divert fresh water into the salt water environment that caused massive losses to shrimp and oyster industries. The evidence doesn't back up any claims that the spill caused that harm, he says. Nothing to see here, move along.
OCT 24 The former mayor of Sorrento was arrested on dozens of child pornography charges, a post on The Creole reports here. Wilson Longanecker Jr. was arrested in his Ascension Parish mansion, the blog reports.
OCT 24 As Bobby Jindal's tenure as governor winds down, blogger Tom Aswell tells us to expect to see more and more of his appointees jumping ship. Some might get shown the door (or the federal indictment, as the case may be) and others are just going to want to avoid standing in "the inevitable unemployment line," he says.
OCT 24 Jim Brown is blogging about elections in this post. There's no one more recognizable when it comes to elections than he is, and yet he still had to show his ID, you know. He gives some easy-to-remember advice on the Amendments: vote against them all. This stuff needs to be handled by legislators, not added to the Constitution, he says.
OCT 24 Bobby Jindal's recent "magical" budget touch - you know, the one that turned a $140 million deficit into a $170 million surplus - is just imaginary, columnist James Gill tells us in this post. It's about as real as that story he tells about the "gold standard" of ethics, Gill says.
OCT 24 George Carter III, a teenage member of the group Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools, died this week, the Picayune reports here. Educators who knew him called him a "visionary." He certainly had some highly-developed ideas for his age, but despite his ability to provide positive ideas for helping kids in the city, in the end he wasn't able to escape NOLA's problems, either.
OCT 24 John Dickerson posts this slice-of-campaign-life look at Mary Landrieu on the trail in Louisiana. Republicans are playing to a runoff, he opines, meaning our state will become "a zoo" if it turns out this race will decide control of the Senate.
OCT 24 Bike lanes have been quite the topic of convo over in NOLA recently, what with streetspace, already at a premium downtown, being sacrified for them. In this post on the Uptown Messenger blog, Owen Courreges opines that the lanes are not really being constructed for people who ride bikes, but instead because developers seeking to make money downtown feel they are needed. He's also predicting that they will increase already nightmarish levels of traffic to new heights. Nah -- that couldn't happen!
OCT 23 Blogger Tom Aswell posts the photo that started making the rounds of the Facebook this week; it shows our governor and his lovely bride, all bright and smiley and holding big guns. The Jindals look a little posed, down to their carefully and properly placed index fingers. They're both grinning wide, displaying how comfortable they are with weaponry. Whee!
OCT 23 This fascinating post on The Lens opens the discussion of New Orleans as subject. C. W. Cannon talks about the concept of dual consciousness and how New Orleanians, especially, have experienced this condition post-Katrina. Cannon attended a recent conference about the issue at Tulane, where the discussion focused on how the romanticization of the city by outsiders masks real social problems.
OCT 23 Bayou Buzz is taking Gov. Bobby Jindal and the GOP to task here for the Ebola shrieking. The so-called "travel ban" makes no sense, and these politicians should have done their homework before coming up with this stunt, Stephen Sabludowsky writes.
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