Marvin Thompson knew he faced a difficult task when he was hired last year as principal at John McDonogh High School in New Orleans.

"The day that I pulled up to this building, I thought it was condemned," Thompson says.

The structure, built in 1898, was sagging and leaky and missing entire window panes. Inside, students were underperforming academically.

And then, there were the rats. Thompson and his two children didn't even finish unpacking his office before they discovered that problem.

Lissandra Melo / <a href="">Shutterstock</a>

Louisiana's state school board has backed a two-year delay for some consequences tied to the phase-in of more rigorous educational standards, called Common Core, at public schools.

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on Tuesday overwhelmingly supported the changes pushed by Superintendent of Education John White.

The plan will raise accountability standards — like the grading of students, schools and teachers — to match the Common Core in 2015, with a slow adjustment to toughen school grades set to phase in through 2025.

Cheryl Gerber / Second Harvest

As school days get longer and family budgets grow tighter, more students are eating all three meals — breakfast, lunch, and dinner — at school.

The Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana recently released one of the first reports to examine New Orleans-specific data on out-of-school suspensions. It's called Suspensions Matter: 2011-2012 Year in Review.

Ben McLeish

Proponents of charter schools in New Orleans have a refrain: charters mean more choice, for kids and families. But most of the charter schools in New Orleans are based on a similar educational model — one marked by rigidity and a relentless focus on getting into college.

Matthew Hinton / New Orleans Advocate

The Common Core standards teach classroom fundamentals in new ways, with a goal of deeper understanding. Sarah Carr, who covers education for the Hechinger Report, has followed the adjustment to Common Core in Louisiana, including at Belle Chase Primary in Plaquemines Parish.

WWNO News Director Eve Troeh talked with Sarah Carr about how parents feel the Common Core changes, as they help their children with homework.

Flickr Creative Commons/ evmaiden

New Orleans parents with children in public schools already have to think about where they will send their students next year. That's because it's time to fill out the One App.

Short for "one application," the One App is a streamlined process for admissions at 74 New Orleans public schools. Parents and students can list up to eight schools they'd prefer to attend.

The application deadline is December 20 for the schools with selective criteria, which are new to the One App system. But not all selective schools are yet included in the One App.

John McCusker / The Advocate

When a group of Mid-City residents proposed opening a school four years ago that would be racially and economically diverse, they were greeted with doubt. Skeptics thought Morris Jeff would end up like most other public schools in the city: almost entirely African American and low-income.

“The understanding (was) that you guys are delusional. Once the school is open (it) will look the same way that all public schools who are open access look,” said Celeste Lofton-Bagert, one of the founders.

Akili Academy

Eve Abrams has been chronicling Akili Academy, an open enrollment charter school now in its sixth year. This week, she reports on Akili Academy’s new-to-them building, and the issue of school real estate city-wide. 

Akili Academy has always been a school of trailers, sitting in Gentilly. Until this year. The K-8th grade charter school has opened its doors in a permanent building.

Save the UNO Children's Center

This month the University of New Orleans sent out a notice, saying its child daycare facility would close December 20. The reason given? It loses money, at a time when the university is facing severe budget cuts. That leaves 81 children in need of new child care options.

At dusk, parents descend on the UNO lakefront campus to collect their little ones from daycare. But a few weeks ago, they lingered — to browse brochures for different child care. Word was out, the UNO Children’s Center was closing.

“It breaks our hearts, you know?”