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Current, former DOTD chiefs disagree on state highway conditions

Former state Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Kam Movassaghi and current DOTD chief Sherri LeBas bluntly disagreed Tuesday on state road and bridge conditions and how to fix them. Movassaghi said state highways are in a “deplorable state,” that political interference from the governor’s office is part of the problem and that politics sometimes… Continue reading →

Local superintendents troubled by overhaul

A Legislature-ordered overhaul of Louisiana’s special education system is sparking questions, concerns and angst among superintendents. “We are proceeding cautiously,” said John Watson, superintendent of the Livingston Parish school system. “It is a big undertaking.” Other school district chiefs made similar comments about the sweeping new law, which won approval earlier this year,… Continue reading →

EBR schools struggling to serve non-English speaking students

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Miguel Ruiz, 14, right, who came recently to the United States from Mexico, talks with ESL Coordinator Alina Miron, center,  in her class at Broadmoor High School recently. At left is Kleiner Garcia, 16. She came to the U.S. from Honduras.

Nearly 300 unaccompanied children from Central America have at least temporarily settled in Baton Rouge since the summer and find themselves in a school system ill prepared for the sudden influx of non-English speaking students. East Baton Rouge Parish public school officials spent the opening weeks of the school year filling English as a second language… Continue reading →

Judge enforces pay rate in Tangipahoa School Board desegregation case

A federal judge has ordered the Tangipahoa Parish School Board to pay opposing attorneys in its desegregation lawsuit an hourly rate the board claims it never agreed to pay — despite a written agreement the board’s attorney signed. Attorneys representing the parish’s black community are seeking payment for recent work in the 49-year-old case under a… Continue reading →

New PAC gears up for School Board races, ads on radio, TV start rolling

A new political action committee formed by Baton Rouge businessman Lane Grigsby is running ads on local TV and radio programs, asking voters on Nov. 4 to press for change in the East Baton Rouge Parish school system, including expanding school choice and giving school leaders more autonomy and budget control. Better Schools for Better Futures, the… Continue reading →

Leaders discuss future of La. college systems’ budgets

Three of Louisiana’s college and university systems are just hoping the state Legislature won’t cut higher education funding next year. Meanwhile, the Southern University System is facing significant funding issues next year, as officials suspect the Baton Rouge campus will fail to meet state benchmarks necessary to raise tuition for a second year. Higher education leaders gave… Continue reading →

Special education overhaul subject of webinar series

Controversy continued to churn Wednesday on a new state law that offers multiple ways for some special education students to earn a high school diploma. Officials of the state Department of Education told a key advisory panel that the agency will hold a series of webinars for school districts on how to implement the overhaul.… Continue reading →

National scholarship program announces 1,600 semifinalists

Ill More than1,600 black high school seniors were named Tuesday as semifinalists in the 51st annual National Achievement Scholarship Program. These students will compete for approximately 800 Achievement Scholarship awards worth about $2.5 million. The National Achievement Scholarship Program, a privately financed academic competition, was… Continue reading →

St. James parents, teachers concerned about Common Core lessons

LSU partners with West Feliciana High for unique program

Photo provided by Howard Arceneaux -- West Feliciana High School Math Teacher Amy Geiger discusses her participation in the LaTeach program during Tuesday's presentation.

When Amy Geiger began her career as a math teacher at a New York high school, training her students how to add, subtract, multiply and divide was relatively easy. The real education for Geiger was learning the complexities that confront inexperienced teachers. For example, she had to deal with a ninth-grade… Continue reading →

Debate aside, Core a reality in classrooms

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Bains Lower Elementary School kindergarten teacher Tonya Aaron, right, holds up a paper with seven dots, as she teaches her class about the number 7.  Students include, left to right, Eliza Dreher, 5, Elijah Sullivan, 5, Xiamya Harris, 5, (behind Sullivan), Wyatt Nicholson, 6, Quinton Sagely, 5, and Ty'Reion London, 6. Elizabeth Bristow, Early Interventionist for Special Education, stands with the class. Despite lawsuits and other arguments, Common Core is being taught in classrooms, including Bains Elementary and Bains Lower Elementary in West Feliciana Parish.

While the debate over Common Core continues to bubble across Louisiana, the new approach to education already is part of the daily routine in Tonya Aaron’s kindergarten class at Bains Lower Elementary School. On this day, 5-year-olds, without any fanfare, are studying the number 7 in umpteen different ways as… Continue reading →

How could LSU save millions, run smoother?

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Commons area at the West Campus Apartments to the right of Edmund Kirby Smith Hall.

LSU could save millions by overhauling its parking system, outsourcing the operation of its power plant and potentially partnering with a private developer to replace aging on-campus student housing, according to a private consultant the university hired. Based on Huron Consulting’s analysis of university operations, a parking revamp that isn’t just an across-the-board increase for… Continue reading →

Southern and Baton Rouge Community College students can now transfer seamlessly

Provided Photo by NAVILLE OUBRE JR. -- Standing from left to right at the signing are William Arp, Dean of Southern's College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, VerJanis Peoples, Southern Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Andrea Lewis Miller, Chancellor of Baton Rouge Community College and Flandus McClinton, Acting Chancellor of Southern University.

Students at Baton Rouge Community College and Southern University can now transfer between the schools seamlessly after the signing Thursday of a new partnership called “Bears 2 Jaguars.” During a ceremony held at Southern, BRCC Chancellor Andrea Lewis Miller and Flandus Mclinton, Southern’s acting chancellor, signed the Memorandum of Understanding . The “Bears 2 Jaguars”… Continue reading →

Facing the Oct. 1 student count, East Baton Rouge School Board defers on program to re-enroll dropouts

Although many members supported the idea in concept, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board on Thursday was unwilling to fast-track hiring a Dallas-based online education company to help kids who have dropped out or who are in danger of dropping out get a diploma. “It sounds really great, but there are things that need to… Continue reading →

LSU tackles African-American male achievement at summit

LSU is looking to expand educational opportunities and success for African-American boys and men in Louisiana, and a Thursday panel of experts weighed in on what works and the complex hurdles that exist. Based on U.S. Department of Education statistics, African-American males lag significantly behind their white counterparts, white females and black females in obtaining college degrees.… Continue reading →

Regents name three finalists for higher ed commissioner

For two days, members of the Louisiana Board of Regents met with an unknown number of people interested in becoming the state’s next higher education commissioner at the Hilton across from the New Orleans airport. They weren’t considered “candidates,” “applicants” or “semifinalists” — as far as the board is concerned — so the state higher education arm… Continue reading →

White pushes tests to school leaders

Advocate Photo by WILL SENTELL -- State Superintendent of Education John White is shown speaking with reporters in this July 17, 2014, Advocate file photo.

The controversial Common Core tests that students take in the spring will offer valuable state-to-state comparisons, state Superintendent of Education John White told local superintendents Thursday. The exams will come from a consortium called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC. Whether to use the assessments has sparked controversy for months,… Continue reading →

Higher ed commissioner search meetings scheduled

Louisiana Board of Regents members who are handling the search for a new state higher education commissioner will be in Kenner this week for “meetings with interested individuals” at the New Orleans Hilton Airport. Twenty-five people have been under consideration for Louisiana’s top higher education leadership post, but the state board has declined to release… Continue reading →

La. public school teacher retirements remain up

The spike in public school retirements eased somewhat, but the numbers are still higher than prior to passage of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education revamp, according to newly released statistics. The number of kindergarten through 12th-grade employees in the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana who retired in the fiscal year ending June 30 stood at 2,979, the… Continue reading →

No uniform policy to address sexual assaults on La. campuses

Louisiana has no statewide policy for handling allegations of sexual assault on college and university campuses, leaving students open to varied experiences depending on which school they attend, according to a report the state Board of Regents released Monday. State Sen. J.P. Morrell, a New Orleans Democrat who had asked for the statewide look, said… Continue reading →

Common Core criticism not limited to the right

While the push to derail Common Core is often attributed to Republicans and conservatives, Louisiana teacher unions that are mostly aligned with Democrats are nearly as vocal in blasting the overhaul. Both the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Educators backed legislation earlier this year that would have scrapped the standards in favor of… Continue reading →

Episcopal uses new interactive game technology to teach its students

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Teachers Sonny James, left, and Margaret Boudreaux, center, use wands as they try their hand at 'Particle Predator,' a 'systems thinking' game in which participants can design rule sets that define how the moving, differently-colored particles interact. At right offering feedback is Heather Harpole. The exercise is part of  Arizona State University professor David Birchfield's   'small lab,' which he is demonstrating at Episcopal School, where teachers and students are participating in the 'embodied learning' project.

Episcopal High School took an ordinary classroom and converted it recently into an educational playroom where students abandon their seats to play interactive games that allow them to explore nearly any topic, ranging from the nature of gravity to Roman history. Turn out the lights, turn on the technology, and the room transforms into a simulator where… Continue reading →

Report pans La. public school performance

Image from WikiMedia -- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Washington, D.C.

A group affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce rates Louisiana as one of the laggards nationally in public education achievement. The ratings were issued for each state by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation with assistance from the American Enterprise Institute. The AEI calls itself an advocate of expanded liberties, more individual opportunity and a… Continue reading →

Jefferson schools face $4.6 million tab to educate immigrants

The Jefferson Parish school system is facing costs of $4.6 million for this school year to educate 533 unaccompanied immigrant children, state Superintendent of Education John White said Friday. Jefferson has the top enrollment of the immigrant children in the state. State officials are still waiting for cost estimates from the East Baton Rouge, Orleans,… Continue reading →

National Merit Scholarship Program names semifinalists for 2015; La. students listed

, Ill. Officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation on Thursday announced the names of approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the 60th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth about $33 million that will be… Continue reading →

Employers scout for talent at 2-day LSU job fair

Photo provided by Javier Fernandez --  Recruiter Alejandro Ram, a product engineer for Kongsberg Maritime Inc. in St. Rose, La... discusses career opportunities with an LSU senior Tuesday.

Some 180 regional and national employers came shopping for job and intern prospects Tuesday at LSU. The science, technology, engineering and math component of the two-day job fair took up most of the day. It preceded the business and liberal arts exposition, which opens 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Companies were… Continue reading →

LSU rises, Tulane and La. Tech fall in rankings

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU students walk by the campanile.

LSU climbed a few notches in U.S. News and World Report’s latest ranking of the top schools in the country, while Tulane University and Louisiana Tech slid slightly on the annual sizing-up of university and colleges. Tulane remains Louisiana’s highest-ranked university at No. 54 — down from last year’s No. 52. Meanwhile, LSU went from 135th to… Continue reading →

12 students face expulsion, 2 suspended after off-campus fight

Twelve students have been recommended for expulsion and two suspended following an after-school brawl in Scotlandville last Tuesday, a spokesman with the East Baton Rouge Parish School System said. A mom walked into Scotlandville High Magnet School on Tuesday to inform administrators that tensions were rising in the neighborhood and that it might lead to fighting,… Continue reading →

WISE panel agrees to distribution plan

LSU will be able to tap into nearly $14.5 million for high-demand fields through the state’s newly-created WISE Fund, the state’s community and technical colleges stand to get nearly $12 million through it, and the University of Louisiana System’s campuses will be reaping about $11.4 million. Leaders on Monday agreed to a distribution formula for the $40 million Workforce… Continue reading →

School Board candidate fights to stay in race, but official says she doesn’t live in district

Tiffany Perkins fought Monday to keep alive her bid to unseat incumbent East Baton Rouge Parish School Board member Jill Dyason during a hearing Monday in 19th Judicial District Court. The two women are vying to represent District 6, but Perkins’ residency in the district is being challenged. State District Judge Todd Hernandez, who presided over… Continue reading →

Traditional school districts work to overcome loss of students, money going to charter schools

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Story on enrollment of public schools throughout East Baton Rouge Parish thus far in the 2014-15 school year. Kindergarten teacher Megan Brockner reads and shows the book

Baker has more children in public schools than it’s had in years, but fewer are enrolling in the city school system. Two new competitors, Advantage and Impact charter schools, have set up shop within the city limits of Baker. As of Wednesday, these public schools had enrolled nearly 500 students between them, 356 and 141 students, respectively.… Continue reading →

LSU student health officials on watch for Ebola virus

Although no cases of the Ebola virus disease have been found in the U.S., the LSU Student Health Center is asking students to schedule an appointment if they have traveled recently to countries where the virus has taken hold. Nelson Perret, Student Health Center medical director, said being at a university with a sizable international… Continue reading →