The “Reform” of NOLA Public Schools: Headline Edition 4/7/06 to 7/29/06

See Parts I and II.

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Algiers charter school meeting set. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 4/7/06. NewsBank. Web.

Watson quits as superintendent: Job may be different when it’s filled again. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 4/13/06. NewsBank. Web.

Hynes, Moton, Warren receive charters. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 4/20/06. NewsBank. Web.

22 more charter schools up for OK. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 4/20/06. NewsBank. Web.

Orleans school-recovery chief named: She guides facilities taken over by state. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 4/21/06. NewsBank. Web.

Superintendent of Education Cecil Picard announced that Robin Jarvis will serve as acting superintendent of the district, which took control of 107 low-performing schools in the 117-school system in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

“I’ve been working with students in New Orleans since I came to the (state education) department in 1999,” Jarvis said. “I understand the challenges we have there.”

Orleans School District asks state to adjust takeover law: It eventually faces default on debts. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 4/21/06. NewsBank. Web.

School system will be unique in nation: Parents can choose from about 50 options. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 4/22/06. NewsBank. Web.

International School is returning to N.O. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 5/5/06. NewsBank. Web.

In newly opened charter schools, many students are thriving when they’re no longer isolated into special education classes. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 5/8/06. NewsBank. Web.

Who runs schools is sore spot: N.O. mayor has little control over district. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 5/15/06. NewsBank. Web.

The New Orleans public school system, which controlled 128 campuses before Katrina, will operate just four in the fall. A dozen independent charter schools also will compete for students. And the state intends to open more than 30 other campuses that the Legislature placed in a state-run recovery district for a minimum of five years

“So they’re going to go in three different directions?” Nagin asked. “I think it needs to come together. All public schools need to be under one superintendent that drives it. There needs to be unified, focused governance.”

School system may limit admissions: It would screen pupils at 4 it still controls. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 5/18/06. NewsBank. Web.

…Ben Franklin Elementary, Bethune Elementary, McMain Secondary and McDonogh No. 35 High — were selective admissions campuses pre-Katrina, …have offered open enrollment since they reopened.

But some fear developing additional selective admissions campuses in a city with considerably fewer public schools will further differentiate between “have” and “have not” campuses, pushing better teachers and additional resources toward high-performing campuses at the expense of other schools.

The plan to set requirements is being pitched by acting Superintendent Ora Watson, who is scheduled to leave her post July 20, in an attempt to make the few system-operated schools competitive in an environment where charter schools and others operated by the state will be actively jockeying to recruit students. The state-chartered and state-run schools all have open admissions.

…But Brian Riedlinger, chief operating officer of the Algiers Charter Schools Association, said he thinks schools are best improved by providing more resources, like staff development, to teachers.

“What we did in Orleans Parish before was instead of improving schools, we just got better kids,” he said. “We have this one opportunity, post-Katrina, to build a level playing field. …You can’t have that if you let people sort kids.”

…State officials, who took over 107 of the 128 New Orleans’ system’s public schools late last year, said having too many selective admissions schools could provide fewer options for special education students. Since all of the state-controlled schools will be open access, “certainly there’s a possibility that we will receive more special education students,” said Meg Casper, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Education.

Watson said she is working on a selective admissions plan that includes special education students at the four NOPS schools, although details are still being fleshed out. She also wants to make sure that all students currently enrolled at those schools are allowed to continue their education there next year, Watson said

“I want to make sure that we have students across the board,” she said. “I don’t want anyone to think that the program is elitist.”

Schools’ fiscal firm gets new role: State contract OK’d for recovery mission. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 5/19/06. NewsBank. Web.

As about 35 Alvarez & Marsal employees begin to work themselves out of a job with New Orleans Public Schools, the company is beginning work on a new three-year, $29 million contract with the state-run recovery school district.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved the new contract last month for the New York-based turnaround firm to focus exclusively on coordinating repairs and insurance claims for many of the 107 school buildings the state took over in November.

Orleans school meetings may answer questions: More campuses to open in August. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 5/23/06. NewsBank. Web.

N.O. schools try to work together: ‘It’s very confusing for a parent,’ one says. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 5/24/06. NewsBank. Web.

The meeting, at Oak Park Baptist Church in Algiers, was the second in a series of three aimed at spreading information about how the state will run the campuses it took over last fall. The final meeting will be tonight at 7 p.m. in eastern New Orleans at Mary Queen of Vietnam Church, 14001 Dwyer Blvd. About 75 residents attended Tuesday’s meeting.

The current system is confusing, Jarvis conceded, particularly for parents trying to decide where to send their children in the fall. Many schools will be starting from scratch with new faculties, new student populations and a new curriculum. Helping parents and students navigate that system is no easy task, Jarvis said.

School officials say about 50 public schools will be open in the fall, operated either by the state recovery district, the parish school board or independent charters.

Algiers charter schools seek trustee. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 6/2/06. NewsBank. Web.

Nonprofit eases schools’ burdens: Fledgling group aids new charters in N.O. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 6/3/06. NewsBank. Web.

Lucky for McPhee, help arrived several months ago in the form of a startup group called New Schools for New Orleans. The group reminded her to apply for important grants. It offered training to her nascent board members, many still confused about what a charter board is supposed to do. And, as more charters prepare to open this fall, the group will help those schools find qualified teachers and coordinate cafeteria, transportation and accounting services — and that’s just the beginning.

With half a dozen employees working out of donated office space, the fledgling organization was conceived early this year during a meeting of local charter school leaders who were trying to figure out how to support so many newly chartered campuses. The group included Green Charter School director Tony Recasner and Sarah Usdin, then a partner in the New Teacher Project, a national nonprofit teacher training and recruiting organization. Usdin ultimately volunteered to take on the project.

Usdin said New Schools for New Orleans has hired the New Teacher Project to help identify teacher candidates who can be offered up to charters looking for staff. So far, they have about 100 teachers ready to recommend to local charter schools — each of whom has already undergone a four-hour interview and other screenings.

New Schools also can help local teachers searching for a job, Usdin said.

“While there are numerous New Orleans teachers who want to come back to work, there’s no central place for them to go,” she said. “This is designed to help folks who don’t want to go around knocking on a bunch of different doors.”

School Board maintains millage. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 6/8/06. NewsBank. Web.

Schools form admissions standards: Plan aims to keep system competitive. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 6/9/06. NewsBank. Web.

…Ben Franklin Elementary, McMain High and McDonogh No. 35 High — had admissions requirements before Hurricane Katrina, but those standards were waived when the schools reopened after the storm. A fourth school, Bethune Elementary, which performed well enough to evade state takeover but was not a magnet campus, also will begin a selective admissions policy in the fall.

Principals said the return to selective admissions is partly in response to pressure from parents whose children attended their schools before Katrina and, in some cases, threatened to pull them out if the schools did not return to such a process.

Parents choosing charter schools: Early enrollment shows strong interest. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 6/10/06. NewsBank. Web.

The charters about to open for the first time in New Orleans since the storm are:

– The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School for Science & Technology will be operating out of the former Colton Middle School building at 2300 St. Claude Ave., serving 630 students in prekindergarten through eighth grade. The principal will be Doris Hicks, who headed the school at its original campus in the Lower 9th Ward before Katrina. Registration will be held every Friday through July 18 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the New Orleans Public Library, 219 Loyola Ave. …

– The International School of Louisiana, which has been operating out of trailers in Kenner, will reopen in August at the site of Andrew Jackson Elementary, 1400 Camp St., and serve 360 students in kindergarten through sixth grade. A Spanish- and French-language immersion school, it will accept students above first grade only if they have already received foreign language education. The school is headed by Tom and Karen Crosby, who served in their posts before the storm. Registration is at 2603 Florida Ave. in Kenner. …

– The Knowledge Is Power Program, a well-known school operator with dozens of campuses around the nation, will run a school with a creative arts emphasis at the site of McDonogh No. 15 Elementary, 721 St. Philip St. It will be headed by Principal Gary Robichaux, who ran KIPP: Phillips Preparatory before the storm and has operated a school of New Orleans students in Houston since Katrina. Many of the 400 available spots in prekindergarten through eighth grade are filling up, but parents can register their children Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. at 927 Royal St. Registration is scheduled to continue the following week at the school’s site. …

– The KIPP: Believe School is enrolling fifth-graders only for a school with 90 spots that will expand over the next few years to include grades six through eight. School Director Adam Meinig, who has worked at KIPP schools in Colorado and Washington, D.C., said the year will begin early, with a mandatory summer program starting July 10. The school will share space with the Priestley School at the site of McNair Elementary, 1607 S. Carrollton Ave. …

– The Priestley School, a charter focused on construction and architecture careers, will hold registration June 20-22 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Greater St. John Missionary Baptist Church, 8616 Hickory St., for 100 ninth-grade spots. The school plans to add additional high school grades in the years ahead. Officials expect to select a school director by the end of the month. Until the original Priestley campus on Leonidas Street is renovated, the school will operate out of McNair Elementary.

– The Warren Easton Charter School, a selective admissions charter, has started registration for about 800 spots in its high school scheduled to reopen in its original building at 3019 Canal St. The principal will be Alexina Medley, who was an assistant principal at Easton and the principal at Thurgood Marshall Middle School before Katrina. Registration continues weekdays through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon at 1000 Howard Ave., Suite 400. …

– The grass-roots Choice Foundation will be working with Mosaica Education, another well-known school operator, to run Lafayette Academy out of the Lafayette School, 2727 S. Carrollton Ave. The school will be open to 650 students in kindergarten through seventh grade. Eileen Williams, former Agnes Bauduit Elementary principal, will head the school. …

Some schools still homeless:

– Although it is already full, spots are available on the waiting list for the Edward Hynes Charter School, which will offer a gifted prekindergarten program and serve students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Principal Michelle Douglas, who was a Hynes teacher and literacy facilitator before Katrina, said the University of New Orleans-affiliated school is still determining where the campus will be housed; its Lakeview campus was devastated by the storm. …

– Although times and locations have yet to be announced, registration is tentatively scheduled to begin the week of June 19 for the still-homeless Moton Charter School, which will serve students in prekindergarten through sixth grade. Paulette Bruno, who served as principal of the year-round school before the storm and will continue in a similar role when it reopens, said the campus at 3000 Abundance St. is too damaged to reopen this year, but she is waiting for the district or the state to locate a building so she can begin classes as scheduled July 10. …

– Another group, the Treme Charter School Association, is expecting to begin registration later this month after it determines which three campuses it will operate, said charter association board President Bernard H. Robertson III.

BESE approves operating plan for N.O. schools. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 6/13/06. NewsBank. Web.

The 61-page plan approved Monday makes it clear the state, which will operate most of the schools, has no intention of repeating the mistakes of the past. Noting how some of the “inefficiencies that were evident” in the old system were “a result of a largely bureaucratic central office,” the state plan calls for “a small, district-level leadership team” and “a streamlined central organization to provide the district with instructional and operational support.”

Robin Jarvis, who this spring was named superintendent of the “recovery school district,” said a priority will be to “hire a strong staff in each school and hold them accountable” in ways previously impossible under the teachers union’s now largely irrelevant collective bargaining agreement with schools.

Although collective bargaining remains at four schools the local district still operates, it has been voided at charter and recovery-district schools.

Jarvis also pledged to improve each school’s performance score by 20 points within the next four years. She also noted a plan to move trailers onto several campuses and establish school-based health clinics in them in an effort to “re-engage (schools) with the community as we rebuild them.”

The state also will be working to provide a 20-1 student-teacher ratio in elementary schools and a 25-1 ratio in high schools, Jarvis said.

BESE member Edgar Chase said the state shouldn’t hesitate to provide additional money to help the city’s public schools reach new heights.

“It would not surprise me if we spend more money that the Orleans Parish system did,” he said.

During public comments, former School Board member Gail Glapion questioned how the state will establish continuity in curriculum and oversight in a public school system overseen by three different entities: the district, the state and various charter groups. “There should be one system,” she said.

Earlier in the meeting, Picard attempted to assuage such concerns, noting pledges of cooperation by the local School Board.

“We’re not going to have two or three systems, as may be perceived,” he said. “We are working together as one.”

Torin Sanders, a current member of the local School Board who has been critical of the takeover, said the local community must “remain vigilant in this experiment as we move forward.”

“We have a good plan, but I’m not impressed by a good plan,” he said. “I’m impressed by great implementation.”

Recovery district to delay classes: 30 schools to open to students Sept. 7. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 6/14/06. NewsBank. Web.

Classes will begin after Labor Day for students who attend about 30 New Orleans public schools operated by the state through its recovery school district, officials decided Tuesday, approving a calendar that gets kids into the classroom about a month later than other school operators.

A committee of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to open recovery district schools Sept. 7, whereas the Algiers Charter Schools Association will begin classes Aug. 7 and New Orleans Public Schools are scheduled to start Aug. 15. The full state board is expected to approve the recovery district calendar Thursday.

Teachers union contract in jeopardy: School Board refuses 45-day extension. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 6/15/06. NewsBank. Web.

Algiers charter plan is OK’d by board: Association to open two more schools. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 6/17/06. NewsBank. Web.

Charter schools seek students: Registration starting Monday in Algiers. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 6/17/06. NewsBank. Web.

The association recently released figures showing the capacity at each school: 700 at both Edna Karr and O. Perry Walker high schools, 624 at Martin Behrman Elementary School, 608 at Fischer Elementary School, 580 at Dwight Eisenhower Elementary and 615 at Alice Harte Elementary.

The state decided this week to give two additional schools to Algiers Charter School Association: McDonogh No. 32 and Harriet Tubman elementary schools.

Registration for both schools also will begin Monday at Tubman, though officials do not yet have projected enrollment figures for those facilities.

Interim Orleans schools chief named: Veteran of 27 years known as a unifier. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 6/20/06. NewsBank. Web.

The Orleans Parish School Board appointed 27-year district veteran Darryl Kilbert as acting superintendent Monday night to replace Ora Watson, who leaves the substantially shrunken district at the end of this month.

Landrieu said Watson, who was originally scheduled to leave the district July 20, will step down June 30. Until then, Watson reverts to her previous role in the district, assistant superintendent for academics.

Kilbert’s salary in the new role has yet to be determined, Landrieu said. He currently makes $135,000 a year.

Former Superintendent Tony Amato made $224,000 a year, including a housing allowance, and Watson, who was appointed as his interim replacement in April 2005, made $160,000.

School leaders assail move to charters: Many at summit see it as invasion by state. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 6/25/06. NewsBank. Web.

“I have voted against every charter, against anything that took away the right of the citizens of this parish to decide,” Louella Givens, who represents New Orleans on the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, said during a forum called to discuss the future of the city’s schools. “I don’t want to experiment with children. We’ve been stigmatized in the Legislature as being thieves, as not caring about our children.”

Against a backdrop of a partial return of city residents, shuttered public housing destined for mixed-income complexes and National Guard troops patrolling flood-ruined neighborhoods, Givens was among school leaders taking part in a two-day summit, “Equity, Access and Community Participation,” that began Friday.

Katrina bore a state movement to take over most New Orleans’ schools and reinvent them as charters. Proponents of charters praise the change as progressive, while several local leaders condemn it as an invasion. The charter system is to remain intact for five years, after which lawmakers will decide whether the Orleans district is ready and able to reclaim the reins.

Registration opens July 10 for N.O. recovery schools: 3 sites will accept papers; first-come are first-served. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 6/30/06. NewsBank. Web.

Classes will start Sept. 7.

To register, Uptown parents and students can visit Benjamin Banneker Elementary, 421 Burdette St. On the West Bank, they can go to Henderson Elementary, 1912 L.B. Landry Ave. Families closer to Treme can register at Joseph S. Clark Senior High, 1301 N. Derbigny St.

Registration on July 10 will be from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. After that, registration will continue weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., although each center will stay open Tuesdays until 7 p.m. Registration will also be available at all three sites on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Enrollment will be on a first-come, first-served basis and parents will be asked to list their top three choices for schools. Parents are asked to bring proof of their address, such as a utility bill, and their child’s Social Security card, birth certificate, immunization record and Individualized Education Program plan, if he or she has one. Information also will be on hand about how to register for replacement Social Security cards and birth certificates as well as for children’s Medicaid and free and reduced lunch programs.

Parents can register online at www.nolapublicschools.net or by calling (877) 453-2721, but they must visit one of the three registration centers by Aug. 12 to sign registration forms and provide the documents necessary to complete enrollment.

Teachers union left without contract: School Board lets pact expire, era end. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 7/1/06. NewsBank. Web.

11 graduate from first state-run high school. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 7/2/06. NewsBank. Web.

Joseph S. Clark Senior High School awarded diplomas to 11 students during its commencement exercise June 23 at Zion Missionary Baptist Church.

Clark reopened April 18 as the first high school in the state-run Recovery School District of New Orleans.

BELL’S ABOUT TO RING: It’s a dream come true for many: a total makeover of New Orleans public schools. But it’s creating a nightmare for teachers waiting to hear about jobs and state officials scrambling to get ramshackle school buildings ready for the first day of class. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 7/3/06. NewsBank. Web.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS OPEN IN NEW ORLEANS IN 2006-7. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 7/3/06. NewsBank. Web. [a list of 57 schools]

SHAKING UP THE SCHOOLS. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 7/3/06. NewsBank. Web.

Aug. 18, 2005: Public schools open, with an enrollment of 56,000
Aug. 29: Katrina closes system, devastates dozens of campuses.
Sept. 15: At first post-Katrina meeting of Orleans Parish School Board, members split over whether to consider replacing interim superintendent Ora Watson. Watson stays on.
Oct. 29: Board approves chartering of 20 public schools.
Nov. 1: Gov. Blanco backs proposed state takeover of low-performing city schools, including 14 of school board’s 20 charters.
Nov. 14: Bring New Orleans Back Commission’s education subcommittee begins school reform plan.
Nov. 22: Legislature approves state takeover of 107 of 128 Orleans schools.
Nov. 28: Ben Franklin Elementary becomes the first public school to open in city, two weeks after devastated St. Bernard Parish reopens unified school for all students.
Nov. 30: Local officials tell 7,500 employees not back at work that they will be fired and lose health insurance by Jan. 31.
Dec. 14: Newly formed Algiers Charter Schools Association opens five campuses.
Jan. 2, 2006: State Superintendent of Education Cecil Picard says state does not plan to operate schools itself; calls for applications from charter organizations soon after.
Jan. 17: The BNOB education panel issues report, saying schools should be organized into networks of either charter- or district-run schools.
Mid-March: After delays caused by a lawsuit, district lays off about 7,500 workers.
April 18: State-run recovery district opens its first three schools, bringing open public schools to 25, serving 12,500 students.
April 19: School board charters three more schools, leaving just four campuses operated directly by the district.
April 20: Robin Jarvis named superintendent of the state-run Recovery District. State announces more than 50 schools will be open by September, for up to 34,000 students. State acknowledges it will have to operate many of those schools itself.
Mid-May: State holds community meetings to get suggestions for operating the Recovery District schools.
June 12: The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which oversees the Recovery District, approves temporary operating plan.
June 15: BESE approves the last of six charters issued since Katrina to operate 10 schools in 2006-07.
June 29: State announces registration for 18 Recovery District.

Clinics will open at public schools: 5 opening now; 7 more are coming. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 7/7/06. NewsBank. Web.

ARENA FAIR: In an effort to help parents navigate the new public school landscape, a school fair is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 22 at the New Orleans Arena.

NEW HIGH SCHOOL: The University of New Orleans will launch the Early College High School on Sept. 5, following a recent agreement by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to amend their charter to include a high school.

New Beginnings will open with a ninth grade and space for 100 students, adding grades 10 through 12 over the next three years. The school will be open admissions and led by Shannon Verrett, who previously served as principal of another UNO charter, Capdau Elementary.

The new school is based on a reform initiative built around small autonomous schools that allow students to earn an associate’s degree or college credit while still in high school.

Charter schools plan job fairs: The Algiers Charter Schools Association will host two career fairs to fill open positions at the eight schools it will run starting next month. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 7/8/06. NewsBank. Web.

Public school registration starts today: State-run program to enroll all grades. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 7/10/06. NewsBank. Web.

Registration today will be from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. After that, registration will continue weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., although each center will stay open Tuesdays until 7 p.m. Registration also will be available at all three sites on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Registration is for all students, pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Classes will start Sept. 7.

To register, Uptown parents and students can visit Benjamin Banneker Elementary, 421 Burdette St. On the West Bank, they can go to Henderson Elementary, 1912 L.B. Landry Ave.

Families closer to Treme can register at Joseph S. Clark Senior High, 1301 N. Derbigny St.

Enrollment will be on a first-come, first-served basis, and parents will be asked to list their top three choices for schools.

Parents are asked to bring proof of their address, such as a utility bill, and their child’s Social Security card, birth certificate, immunization record and Individualized Education Program plan, if he or she has one.

Information also will be on hand about how to register for replacement Social Security cards and birth certificates, as well as for children’s Medicaid and free and reduced lunch programs.

Parents can register online at www.nolapublicschools.net or by calling (877) 453-2721, but they must visit one of the three registration centers by Aug. 12 to sign registration forms and provide the documents necessary to complete enrollment.

Students and parents line up to register for school in fall: Students are returning to rebuild, revive. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 7/11/06. NewsBank. Web.

Charter schools to hold job fair. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 7/13/06. NewsBank. Web.

Schools could be short on teachers: Pressed district scraps ‘rigorous’ test process. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 7/13/06. NewsBank. Web.

Facing a real possibility they won’t be able to hire enough qualified teachers before opening 15 new public schools in New Orleans on Sept. 7, officials from the state-run Recovery School District said they are working on a contingency plan as they scramble to find 500 educators.

Last week, Jarvis said the district was planning to use $250,000 in federal grants to hire the nonprofit group New Schools for New Orleans to screen teacher applicants. Working with The New Teacher Project, a national teacher training and recruiting organization, New Schools was planning to run candidates through the gamut of time-tested exercises designed to find top-quality staff before they were sent to interview with principals, the first of whom are being hired this week. Not one teacher has been hired for the 15 schools that are scheduled to open in September.

Jarvis said the state’s process does not equate to lowering the bar, but she conceded that “some say (the process offered by New Schools) is more rigorous.”

There are notable differences between the two methods.

In their initial application to New Schools, teachers are asked for written responses to several questions, including: “Knowing that many of your future classroom students are…unprepared to meet grade-level expectations, what will you do…to ensure” they succeed? The responses are checked for spelling, grammar and content, said Bruce Villineau, a recruiting expert for The New Teacher Project.

The state’s initial application does not require a writing sample.

New Schools also demands that teachers must be certified or working toward their certification to be considered. Jarvis said the state is aiming for all of its teachers to be certified.

Applicants to New Schools whose applications pass muster are asked to show up for a group interview, where their ability to solve problems in the classroom is assessed, Villineau said. They are then required to take a 30-minute writing test on the spot, followed by one-on-one interviews.

The state’s screening involves a multiple-choice test, also taken in person, on grammar and math skills. A writing sample is also part of the test.

Those who make the cut with either method are then interviewed by state officials and school principals.

Jarvis said the state’s test, with its largely multiple-choice format, can be quickly graded to speed the evaluation process. It will be given next week to applicants who respond to e-mails and calls going out this week. Interviews likely will begin the last week of the month.

Villineau said New Schools’ process would have delayed that schedule by at least a week, possibly longer.

“We’re in imperfect times, and we have to work in the constraints we’re given, and time is one of those, as is the need for quality,” said Sarah Usdin of New Schools.

Jarvis said hiring has been delayed because the state initially hoped to charter all of the schools under its control, which would have left the hiring up to the individual charter school principals. But it failed to receive enough strong charter applications. Delays were compounded by the wait for demographers to project the number of returning students, she said.

School sign-up is a nightmare [Letter to editor]. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 7/14/06. NewsBank. Web.

Re: “Students and parents line up to register for school in fall,” Metro, July 11.

How much more will we asked to endure? When will the state and other governmental agencies realize that our tax dollars are to be used to provide services for us and that these agencies should accommodate our needs?

I read with disbelief of the maze that parents must traverse to register their children for one of the many schools that the state has helped to establish in New Orleans.

Why doesn’t the state mandate one place as well as times and dates for registration for all schools in Orleans Parish?

The public is getting sick and tired of being treated like the government is doing us a favor.

This school registration nightmare needs to end immediately.

Merle T. Harris
New Orleans

Senators see hope in retooled N.O. schools: Officials urged to make full use of opportunity. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 7/15/06. NewsBank. Web.

“New Orleans has an opportunity out of this tragedy that no city in America has,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Education and Early Childhood Development. Noting that 34 of 57 schools opening later this summer will be charters, he added: “New Orleans will be the leading big city in America creating new charter schools.”

The three senators — Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.; Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.; and Alexander — heard testimony from eight state and local education officials and a local parent, gathering information about the new system shaping in New Orleans.

One benefit of the new system will be offering families the unprecedented opportunity to choose among the various charter, state-run and district schools opening in the next few months, Alexander said.

“The idea of giving free market choice to families of New Orleans primarily benefits low-income people because people with money often (only) have those choices,” he said.

Although Tulane has an agreement with the selective but high-performing Lusher School to educate children of the university’s staff and, in turn, offer financial assistance to that campus, Cowen said: “As you know, we (work with) a charter school that is selective admissions and I’m going to be pushing like hell to make it open admissions.”

Recovery School District Superintendent Robin Jarvis suggested she too opposed selective admissions public schools, saying: “We can’t create exclusive, separate schools, because we cannot exist beyond school in those separate worlds.”

RISING ABOVE RUINS: Their school no longer stands, but teachers and alumni of the 9th Ward bedrock still have vivid memories to share. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 7/16/06. NewsBank. Web.

More than 10 months after the storm’s floodwaters devastated the neighborhood, Lawless High, which opened in 1964, exists mostly in the minds of those who grew up within its walls and of people like Jackie Mahatha, a longtime teacher who served as its last principal before Katrina struck.

Whether the school, which included grades eight through 12 and had the mythological mascot of “The Pythian Warrior,” will ever reopen is unclear. Before the storm, it had 800 students and 64 faculty.

N.O. schools are righting financial ship: But some fear it could capsize again when consultants leave. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 7/19/06. NewsBank. Web.

With a payroll error rate of 20 percent and thousands of long-departed employees still in the system — some still receiving checks — consultants from the turnaround firm of Alvarez & Marsal made the unpopular decision to require every employee to come in, with their driver’s license and other documents, to confirm they actually existed.

After Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, the school district was able to pay the right people, some who had fled to locales as far flung as France and Saudi Arabia, with data Alvarez & Marsal staff helped retrieve from the damaged office just two days after the storm.

School board member Jimmy Fahrenholtz said such competence never would have occurred were the district left to its own devices.

4 schools full as signup revs up: But Recovery District takes cautious stance on rolls. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 7/20/06. NewsBank. Web.

Just a week and a half after registration began for 18 Recovery District schools, 4,332 students have filled 40 percent of the spots on those campuses and four schools already are full, state officials said.

More schools can be opened if there is demand, Recovery District spokeswoman Siona LaFrance said, and capacity also could be increased at many of the 18 campuses. State officials, who will operate the schools when they open Sept. 7, are now anticipating those campuses will be able to accommodate 10,775 students.

As of Wednesday, all three of the schools opened by the Recovery District in April — Banneker Elementary, Craig Elementary and Clark High — were filled to capacity along with Dibert Elementary in Mid-City, which will be among the 15 schools to debut since Katrina and under the state-run system.

COLLEGIANS LEND A HAND: More than 125 students from Prairie View (Texas) A&M University will be at the former Fortier High School, site of the new Lusher High, today to help clean up and ready the school for students’ return.

The effort is one of many at campuses throughout the city. Last weekend a group of volunteers were busy cleaning out the Village de l’Est school building in eastern New Orleans to prepare it for repairs. That school will be home to the Einstein Charter School.

State’s school district making hires: Recovery district names 11 principals. (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. 7/29/06. NewsBank. Web.

Six weeks before they open 17 public schools in New Orleans, the Recovery School District announced the hiring of 11 principals, all but two of whom previously worked for New Orleans Public Schools. Six schools still remain without an educator in their top post.

The state-run system has also offered jobs to 124 teachers but still anticipates needing 500 before classes begin Sept. 7, state officials said. It is unclear how many teachers have accepted those jobs.

 

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A mad black woman in New Orleans.
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