State super outlines shift to ‘fundamentally different’ standards
White was on hand at the Lafayette Parish School Board Wednesday to discuss the plan and hear from board members, something he’s done and will continue to do for school boards across the state as Louisiana moves forward with the new measures to increase student achievement.
The state education superintendent told board members that Louisiana is moving toward “fundamentally different” standards for students and educators alike, noting that the state’s shift to Common Core Standards means Louisiana’s public education system will be ranked among the 46 other states making the same transition to Common Core.
“It’s not going to be, ‘How did Lafayette do? Or how did Vermilion do? It’s going to be how did Oklahoma do? How did Massachusetts do?” White explained. “We’ve got two years to make the shift to, ‘How did Louisiana do?’ with exactly the same test, exactly the same bar as the 46 other states implementing these standards.”
White also touted the state’s new course choice program, which allows businesses, colleges and other online educators to offer courses outside of the traditional school setting, as a way “open up avenues for industry itself to come in and begin the training of future employees — for high school credit — trained by the people who best know what the workforce needs are.”
Taking a minute to dispel what he called myths coming out of Act 1 and the legislative session, which among other measures makes it harder for teachers to earn tenure, White said contrary to rumor, “it does nothing to reduce teachers’ salaries or retirement.”
“Current teachers who have tenure are not affected,” White said. “No one loses their tenure status. Teachers with ineffective ratings lose their tenure, but they have the opportunity to get it back. And no teacher loses their job after one ineffective rating.”
As expected, board members had questions about the state’s new voucher program that funnels public school dollars to private schools who accept low-income students from failing public schools. The voucher program has been among the most controversial pillars of Jindal’s education reform.
Board member Mark Babineaux questioned whether voucher schools will have to undergo the same teacher evaluation system as public schools, to which White said no. White explained that all public school students attending voucher schools will be required to take the same standardized tests administered in public schools, and voucher schools with 40 or more students will earn a performance score based mostly on test scores and a few other factors, much like public schools. If the private school’s performance score falls below the outlined benchmark, the school will not be allowed to accept more voucher students.
“Traditional schools have to be at an F for four years before going into Recovery School District. Private schools that aren’t acceptable for one year don’t get to accept new kids into the program,” White explained. “Same bar, swifter accountability.”
But voucher schools accepting fewer than 40 students will not face the same consequences. As widely reported when White announced the voucher accountability plan in July, private schools with less than 40 voucher students — roughly 75 percent of the schools on the voucher list — will only have to publish their voucher students’ standardized test scores. There are no automatic repercussions for private schools with poor test scores if they take in fewer than 40 students.
The state super offered repeated praise to Lafayette Parish for its own district turnaround plan as crafted under the direction of Superintendent Pat Cooper.
“I can’t think of anything more exciting,” he said.
MAY 23 Here's a story in the Picayune about some statistics that must come as a blow to folks who believe that any private school can do a better job of educating kids than any public school: Danielle Dreilinger reports that only 30 percent of the voucher kids are passing. That's less than half of the state wide average, she says. It's an interesting statistic because most of the schools (if not all) taking voucher kids have never had their students' standardized test scores released to the public before.
MAY 23 Stephen Sabludowsky blogs on Bayou Buzz about auditor requests here. Recently the state GOP started crowing about a request from the Legislative Auditor, claiming they were being targeted because of their anti-tax stance. (Uh, your what?) Denial and hyperbole aside, the state Democratic party blew holes in that theory with an email announcing they'd received the same request, Sabludowsky writes here.
MAY 23 Jim Brown blogs about the senate race in this post. He says that, given Bobby Jindal's "lack of traction" on the national stage, it might make more sense for the governor to consider running against Mary Landrieu for the senate seat. Since Tim Teeple left the Cassidy team, it makes sense he might land on a Jindal for Senate team, Brown opines.
MAY 23 In this Louisiana Voice post, blogger Tom Aswell writes of rumors that his nemesis, state Superintendent of Education John White, may be soon departing Louisiana for a federal post. It's hard to believe, given his performance, Aswell says, but stranger things have happened. An anti-White BESE member says that, if true, White is quitting before he can be fired.
MAY 23 In this post on American Zombie, blogger Jason Berry writes about the Mother's Day shooting. Mayor Landrieu said that "this is not who we are," but the fact is, this is New Orleans, Berry writes. The violence infused in the city is the result of a culture created by "sins of omission or sins of commission," Berry writes. It's not a problem that can be solved by legislating, policing, praying or publicizing, he says: Someone's got to understand what's happening first.
MAY 23 This post in the Westside Journal tells us what Port Allen Mayor Deedy has been up to lately: vetoing ordinances, apparently. This story is most interesting, however, when it delves into a petition that has been circulating around the city lately. It accuses the former mayor of a lot of nasty things; the former mayor says it is full of lies and "broken syntax" which may be a larger offense in his eyes.
MAY 23 This editorial posted in The Advocate is a bit confusing. The writing is poor - definitely not up to the usual editorial writing standard there - and the point is hard to grasp. Apparently, the writer is saying that privatization of state efforts is OK, as long as there is oversight and transparency, but Jindal's not good at that, and the legislature shouldn't over-react. Okey Dokey. Can't they get one of them Pulitzer-winning people to write an editorial?
MAY 23 This post on The Lens gives you links to a new Google Earth tool that allows you to see any spot on earth transform over the past 30 years. Bob Marshall, who covers the coast for the paper, says that in the case of Louisiana's coastline, it's possibly something you don't want to see, because it's not a pretty picture. There are several clips here, showing critical areas erode away. For Marshall, it was vindication for all those times he was met with eye-rolling when he talked about erosion.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.