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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NOV 21 Bobby Jindal is headed to Iowa again, the Des Moines Register reports here. The paper outlines what's going on with Bobby's non-campaign for president, and there's a lot of stuff here -- too bad none of it sounds like somebody running Louisiana. Hey, wasn't that the job he wanted?
NOV 21 The end of the term has come for the grand jury investigating a lucrative Medicaid contract and a former state health official's ties to the company that won it, the Advocate reports here, but that doesn't mean the investigation into this stinkiness is over. There are still some things to look into, the lead prosecutor says.
NOV 21 With the passage of two amendments to Louisiana's much-amended constitution (it has been amended almost 200 times now) higher education has an even bigger target on its collective back, columnist Jim Beam opines in this post. Higher ed used to share the spotlight with health care, but that has changed, he says.
NOV 21 Here's a weird one: The Louisiana Cannabis Industry Association has endorsed Bill Cassidy for the U.S. Senate. Apparently, Mary Landrieu said she wouldn't consider support of medical marijuana but Cassidy said he would, WWL reports here.
NOV 21 Solange Knowles, possibly best-known for assaulting her brother-in-law in an elevator while wearing an ugly dress after the Met Ball, got married in the Marigny Opera House this past weekend, the New York Times reports here. Knowles, who has a house in the Faubourg Marigny district and owns a boutique in the Quarter, married Alan Ferguson.
NOV 21 This post on the Fuel Fix blog outlines a $1.4 billion move announced this week by the Apache Corp. that includes the sale of assets in south Louisiana. The company's interests in more than 90,000 acres in south Louisiana are some of the assets being sold, the post reports.
NOV 21 One (possible) positive from Hurricane Katrina is a comprehensive zoning ordinance for New Orleans. Nine years later, we're getting closer to that being finalized, but the current version has some problems. Here's the latest in a series of posts on The Lens in which residents give their views of the draft; this one is more amusing than most.
NOV 21 The new NOLA smoking ordinance is going to harsh your (nicotine) buzz, man. This post on Gambit outlines the high (or low, as the case may be) points: it includes electronic cigarettes and hookahs in its bans; eliminates smoking within 25 feet of any building's public entrance and in any public space - or near any public space - operated by the city.
NOV 20 Politico reports here that Bobby Jindal won't be kept out of the presidential race by anyone else's candidacy. (If he's running, which he's not, 'cause he's not done prayin' on it) So he's not interested in who is running, or what the polls say, or how much money he's got? K.
NOV 20 NOLA Defender's Tiny Daiquiri has a little fun with Bobby Jindal's Meet the Press appearance in this post. Bobby is still prayin' on whether or not he'll run for the job he's been running for over the past three years, Tiny says.
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