Education

Mallory Falk / WWNO

 

Nearly ten years after Hurricane Katrina, some former school buildings sit vacant. The school board is selling them off. This week charter school leaders get a look inside seven of the buildings.

The buildings are mostly empty: a faded mural here, a line of rusted lockers there. State law gives charter school operators first dibs on the buildings. So the seven properties are on display, but not to the general public.

Mallory Falk / WWNO

Early childhood education got a boost last week. The federal government pledged $32 million to fund Louisiana pre-schools. 

In this month's Voices of Educators series, we look at an early childhood teacher. 

Kwanza Wells teaches at Catholic Charities St. John the Baptist Head Start, one of more than 30 Head Start centers in New Orleans. She helps students develop critical skills to succeed in kindergarten and the world.

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan addressed the annual lunch for the nonprofit Bureau of Governmental Research on Thursday.

He called New Orleans an example for the nation in school innovation, and cited a long list of statistics in achievement improvements since 2005. Then, 60 percent of students attended a failing school, while that number has dropped to 5 percent today.

Duncan noted that New Orleanians, more than most, know the pain that comes with drastic school change. In the battle for better public education, he said, "you are absolutely winning."

Today, for the first time, a charter school board voted to transfer from the Recovery School District back to the Orleans Parish School Board.

When the Recovery School District was created in 2003, the directive was clear: take over failing schools, turn them around, then transfer them back to the Orleans Parish School Board.

But now charter school boards decide whether to transfer to local control or stay in the state-run RSD. Until now, no eligible schools have returned to OPSB.

Mallory Falk / WWNO

This weekend New Orleans voters decide whether to extend and redirect a property tax to fund school maintenance. The measure seems simple: set aside money so schools don't fall into disrepair. But the millage vote reflects a power struggle in New Orleans schools.

Last month, a banner started appearing outside schools. It features a racially diverse group of kids, with crisp jeans and wide smiles. Each gives a big thumbs up. The accompanying text: Our children, our schools. Not a tax increase. Vote December 6.

School buildings in the Crescent City will become monuments to our differences instead of the beacons of learning they are supposed to be if New Orleanians reject a preservation program for educational facilities in the voting booth on Dec. 6.

It’s a funding conflict that mirrors power disputes around the country over whether the states, or local, elected boards should control schools.

Anything but a vote to pass the measure ignores what New Orleans children went through before and immediately after Hurricane Katrina.

Sebastian Blanco / Creative Commons

In New Orleans and nationally, many schools have adopted a no-excuses model. They enforce strict rules and suspend students at high rates.

In a new article out this week in the Atlantic and Hechinger Report, reporter Sarah Carr looks at the push back against no-excuses discipline. She profiles several local charter schools, including Carver Collegiate, New Orleans College Prep, and KIPP Renaissance.

Young Audiences Charter School

Editor's note: With Voices from the Classroom: The Arts in Education Reform, NolaVie and cultural partner WWNO — New Orleans Public Radio are teaming up to take a look at how the arts are being used creatively in schools around the city.

Why are the arts an important component for school curricula? And how are we integrating arts into local classrooms? Today, Renee Peck interviews Folwell Dunbar, head of a new kind of school in Jefferson Parish.

Eve Abrams

What does it take to learn how to write well? Time and support. But the school day is more squeezed more than ever — with test preparation and a laundry list of standards to be taught.

There are few extra minutes to foster expression or help kids convey complex, creative ideas. But one young organization in New Orleans, Big Class, is supporting kids and schools in better writing.

Mallory Falk / WWNO

As New Orleans continues to reshape public education, WWNO seeks to highlight teachers who bring unique talents and perspectives to their work. We feature one such educator each month.

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