Education

Thousands of Louisiana students are English Language Learners. Many recently came here from Central America, with or without their families. Schools don't always know what they need or are entitled to receive. Now the Southern Poverty Law Center and Louisiana Department of Education are trying to change that.

Things are far from normal for people in Louisiana hit by last month's historic flood. Thousands have lost their homes, their cars, their jobs.

But one routine resumed this week in Baton Rouge: Students are back in class after a three-week interruption.

At Claiborne Elementary in north Baton Rouge, kids are tussling on school playgrounds again, even as their families' soaked belongings lay in heaps along neighborhood streets.

Floods Disrupt Louisiana's School Schedule

Sep 1, 2016

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In Louisiana's second-largest school district, all the schools are closed because of the massive flooding there. Students in the East Baton Rouge Parish were scheduled to go back this week. But the district had to delay the start of school until after Labor Day. Mallory Falk from member station WWNO reports.

Mallory Falk / WWNO

The Orleans Parish School Board approved a plan to reunify New Orleans public schools. That is, transfer Recovery School District charters back to the local school board. But this isn’t a return to the old system. It’s a new model for governing schools.

Mallory Falk / WWNO

For many local college students, the last few days of August were supposed to be spent moving into dorms. But heavy rains and floods around Baton Rouge have put a hold on those plans.

Mallory Falk / WWNO

Over 90% of New Orleans public school students attend charters. But there are still six traditional public schools, run directly by the Orleans Parish School Board. They came together at McDonogh 35 Senior High School to kick off the school year.

Like any good New Orleans event, the OPSB convocation started out with a second line. Each school had a turn parading down McDonogh's gleaming front hall. Teachers shook bells, waved umbrellas and performed school cheers.

OPSB oversees 28 schools, but it only directly runs six. Those are the ones here today.

The special legislative session is over. A budget deal has been reached. And changes are in store for TOPS, the state's college scholarship program.

Morris Jeff Community School was the first New Orleans charter to form a union, in 2013. But its teachers operated without a contract. Until now.

Mallory Falk / WWNO

This school year, two high profile New Orleans charter schools attempted to form unions. One voted yes: International High School. One voted no: Lusher Charter School. In light of those votes, teachers around the city shared their perspective on unions since Katrina and where things might go from here.

William Widmer / Slate

The New Orleans teaching force changed dramatically after Hurricane Katrina, when all public school teachers were laid off. They were mostly black, veteran educators from the area. Now, teachers are more likely to be young, white and to have grown up outside New Orleans.

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