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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AUG 27 Columnist Stephanie Grace is writing about those bosom buddies (not), Bobby Jindal and David Vitter, in this post. On the one hand, the two politicians have so much in common, it's hard to tell them apart, she says. But Vitter has taken pains to distance himself from the governor, she says.
AUG 27 This post by blogger Katie East on DIG Baton Rouge is (unfortunately) an accurate reflection of many Americans' experience with our health care system. She has to be impatient, to be "bitchy," to fight to get her physicians to take her seriously. We have the most expensive health care in the world, and East has to use Wikipedia (and her mom) to get a CAT scan? Really?
AUG 27 State retirees who get their health coverage through the state can look forward to paying more for premiums, drugs and out of pocket costs, blogger Tom Aswell tells us in this post. The problem is that Bobby Jindal's plan to privatize the system has resulted in a monthly $16 million deficit, Aswell says, so Bobby's trying to price retirees out of the system.
AUG 27 This post on The Lens takes a look at the so-called "stand your ground" laws that are common across the United States, including in Louisiana. But even though they exist in most states, the enforcement of these laws hasn't been consistent, the story reports.
AUG 27 Blogger CB Forgotston is bumping up against shrill in this post, when he's talking about the taxpayer-funded house where State Police Commander Mike Edmonson lives on your dime. For instance, CB's complaining about the "servants," but the story he links to here reports that a convict cleans the house. CB also calls it a "mansion" but it sure looks more like a standard brick suburban house.
AUG 27 This story on WWL is about some college students who have created a nail polish that can detect date rape drugs. That's really cool, but the real story is in the comments from female college students who say that date rape is routine in college. Hello? Not OK. Can we do something about that, please?
AUG 27 Columnist Rolfe McCollister pays tribute to Robin Williams in this post on Baton Rouge Business Report. In particular, he's reminding us of some of the actor's best lines from Dead Poets Society, one of Williams' most beloved roles.
AUG 27 The woman's right to vote is celebrated this week, but in Louisiana, Women's Equality Day has a different relevance, this post on NOLA Defender tells us. Even though more than 60 percent of the women in this state are the sole bread winner for their household, we still can't do right by them.
AUG 26 Here's blogger Ian McGibboney's take on the great NFL-Slap Ya Mama controversy of 2014. Ian's explanation of the expression is a lot better (and more accurate) than the PR nonsense that has come out, and he also raises a pretty good question: can Boudreaux's Butt Paste be far behind? (Wups! No pun intended...)
AUG 26 Sen. Elbert Guillory's bill aimed at preventing "armed and incapacitated geezers" from working as Justices of the Peace was a huge joke, columnist James Gill writes in this post. Nobody knows who really called Guillory asking for it, nor who sent him the text for it, but they certainly got a lot of mileage out of one phone call, Gill says.
AUG 26 This post on the NOLA Defender blog takes a look at the recent decision by the NFL to cancel the advertising it previously accepted from the "Slap Ya Mama" seasoning. In light of recent events in which the NFL's ability to take domestic violence seriously was questioned, the league felt it wasn't a good idea, the post reports. The best part of this (kinda ridiculous) story, however, is the explanation the PR people give for the expression.
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