Jess Clark

Education Desk Reporter

Jess Clark is WWNO's Education Desk reporter. Jess comes to the station after two years as Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting for North Carolina Public Radio - WUNC (Chapel Hill). Her reporting has aired on national programs, including NPR's All Things ConsideredHere & Now from WBURand NPR's Weekend Edition

Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Jess graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015 with a master's in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Ways to Connect

Rain clouds gather over Esperanza Charter School in Mid-City. The neighborhood was hard hit during the flooding of August 2017.
Jess Clark / WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

Climate change is bringing more intense weather — more rain, heat and storms. And in New Orleans, extreme weather is disruptive. People park their cars up on curbs, and miss work — and school. It turns out kids missed a lot of school this past year, largely because of aging infrastructure failing during extreme weather.

Results from the 2018 state standardized tests show New Orleans-area students are trailing their peers statewide.
midnightpeace_90 / Flickr

On average, kids in Louisiana public schools tested slightly better on their standardized tests this year. But New Orleans-area kids still trail behind the state, and achievment gaps for certain groups of students remain persistent.

 

This year kids were tested in math, social studies and English language arts (ELA). The state raised the bar this year for what it means to be on grade level - students now have to score at the “mastery" level to meet the standard.

 

 

 

Public schools get a large portion of their funding from local property taxes — that's taxes paid on homes and businesses, including big factories. But for decades, manufacturers in Orleans Parish have gotten a big break on those property taxes, and that means less money for schools. Now the parish school board is considering asking companies to pay up. 

U.S. Marshalls escort Ruby Bridges to integrate William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans in 1960.
United States Government

When Americans are taught the story of school desegregation, they learn about the 1954 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. The Board of Education. But much of the work of desegregation happened outside the courtroom. Black children, some as young as six, put their bodies on the line every time they entered a white school, and nearly all of them were girls.

George Washington Carver High School class of 2018 files in for their graduation ceremony.
Jess Clark / WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

At the end of George Washington Carver High School's graduation ceremony held at Xavier University at the end of May, hundreds of graduates in their white caps and gowns flood out of the auditorium to meet their families. The Carver band is playing. Girls are pulling off their high heels and unzipping their robes so they can really break it down.

Cypress Academy leaders shocked parents when they announced three days before the end of the school year that they won't be reopening in the fall.
Jess Clark / WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

New Orleans charter school Cypress Academy may not close after all. On Tuesday afternoon, the Orleans Parish School Board announced it plans to take over operations at Cypress so the school can remain open for the 2018-2019 school year. The news follows parent outrage after Cypress gave parents three days notice the school would be closing at the end of this school year.

Cypress Academy leaders shocked parents when they announced three days before the end of the school year that they won't be reopening in the fall.
Jess Clark / WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

On Sunday night, just three days before the end of the school year, Jenny Schecter got a text from a friend saying their kids' charter school, Cypress Academy, was closing.

"My husband and I opened up the computer, read the email, and I just immediately started crying," Schecter said. 

Race and Education in New Orleans traces the history of education back to 1764.
Courtesy of Walter C. Stern

When talking about the history of education in this New Orleans, school reformers often point to the problems in the school system in the decades before Hurricane Katrina: financial mismanagement, corruption and abysmal graduation rates. But one education researcher has recently written a book taking a longer view. 

The state's high school graduation rate rose to 78 percent. New Orleans area schools have a 72 percent graduation rate.
Wikimedia Commons

The state's high school graduation rate is the highest it’s ever been, according to new data released by the Louisiana Department of Education. The class of 2017 - seniors who graduated last year - had a 78.1 percent graduation rate, up from 77 percent for the class of 2016. But schools in the New Orleans area still lag behind.

Accordion maker Pennye Huval owns and runs Martin's Cajun Accordions with her father in Lafayette Parish.
Jess Clark / WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

Visitors to Jazz Fest will not only find Louisiana music and food, but also expert Louisiana craftsmen and women. Accordion makers Clarence Martin Junior and Pennye Huval came to the Jazz Fest craft tent to show off their talents. The father and daughter own an Martin Cajun Accordions, an accordion shop in Lafayette Parish.

Pages