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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 →

Education law violates constitution, teachers union argues

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An attorney for a teachers union says the Louisiana Legislature violated the state constitution in 2012 by overloading an education overhaul bill. In arguments Friday before the state Supreme Court, Larry Samuel arguing for the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, took note of the bill’s multiple provisions governing diverse matters including teacher tenure, salary… Continue reading →

Candidate to withdraw from East Baton Rouge Parish School Board race

Rather than continue to fight a legal challenge to his residency, Eugene Collins Weatherspoon said late Thursday that he plans to withdraw his candidacy for the newly drawn District 3 on the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board. That would leave incumbent Kenyetta Nelson-Smith, a Democrat, re-elected without opposition. She would start her second term Jan.… Continue reading →

School Board considers ideas to divert construction funds to projects challenging charter schools, St. George effort

The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board may ditch plans to demolish and rebuild two elementary schools and instead redirect that $41 million to new programs to better compete with charter schools or to build a new high school south of I-10 to head off interest in creating a city of St. George. The School Board… Continue reading →

Xavier president announces retirement plan

Norman C. Francis, the nation’s longest serving university president, plans to retire from that role at Xavier University of Louisiana next year. Francis announced his decision, effective June 2015, during a campus-wide convocation Thursday morning. “After nearly 47 years, I believe that the time has come to take the brightly burning torch turned over to me… Continue reading →

BESE executive director leaving

The executive director of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is leaving her post, officials said Thursday. Heather Cope, who has held the job for two years, is taking a position as chief of staff for the Office of School Performance in the Camden, New Jersey, School District. BESE President Chas Roemer said Thursday… Continue reading →

Pennington selected to test new Alzheimer’s drug

LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center will take part in a national clinical research study, testing a drug that could treat Alzheimer’s — an incurable disease that affects brain function and eventually leads to death. The study marks Pennington’s entry into the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study network, an elite group of research sites that are leading federal efforts… Continue reading →

Computer wizards converge on LSU to test their skills

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- Austin Wells from Southern Methodist University uses hand gestures to interact with software Saturday, August 30, 2014 at GeauxHack, the first ever 24-hour

With cases of energy drinks, pillows, blankets and, of course, their laptops, about 75 students descended on Coates Hall on LSU’s campus this weekend to compete in the 24-hour GeauxHack hackathon. The group of college students from all parts of the country came for the chance to compete in teams for the best invention of the… Continue reading →

Cliff Vannoy named LSU Alumni Association leader

Cliff Vannoy, who has been serving as acting head of the LSU Alumni Association in recent weeks, has been named the new president and Chief Executive Officer of the nonprofit alumni group. “The LSU Alumni Association National Board of Directors is pleased that Cliff has accepted the position of president and CEO,” board Chairman Gil Rew said… Continue reading →

25 seeking Louisiana higher ed job

Twenty-five people are being considered for Louisiana’s higher education commissioner job, but the state Board of Regents isn’t yet releasing their names. The committee tasked with narrowing the candidate pool met — mostly in a closed meeting — in Baton Rouge Wednesday afternoon but took no action. Though an early timeline proposed for the search initially… Continue reading →

Video: Louisiana's Great Common Core Debate

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD --  Cohen Jones writes the math equation to express what he created with blue and red dots Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, in Debbie Giroir's first-grade class at Belle Chasse Primary School.

Rarely has an issue in Louisiana triggered heated arguments for months like the push for the new academic standards called Common Core. It has caused rifts between Gov. Bobby Jindal and his former allies, divided parents and triggered countless hours of debate in the Legislature, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and courtrooms. And even after… Continue reading →

WISE Council gets rough overview of funding distribution

Higher education and workforce leaders are moving closer to developing guidelines for the distribution of a new $40 million fund for Louisiana colleges and universities, but the group overseeing the WISE Fund is still tweaking its formula. The discussion over how to divvy up the Legislature-created Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy Fund has… Continue reading →

LSU President F. King Alexander pushes federal scorecard for colleges

LSU President F. King Alexander continues to draw attention for his support of a proposed federal scorecard that would reward colleges and universities for providing better value to students. Bloomberg News describes Alexander as one of the most vocal proponents of President Barack Obama’s proposal, which would rank based schools on tuition, student debt, graduation rates and… Continue reading →

Board denies Mason contract extension

Advocate staff photos by Brenden Neville -- Southern University System President Ronald Mason Jr., left, presides over a board meeting.

The Southern University System could be in the market for a new leader soon. On Saturday, the Southern Board of Supervisors voted overwhelmingly against a proposed one-year contract extension for embattled system President Ronald Mason. Mason’s contract expires June 30, 2015. “It’s unproductive when the board and administration are in an adversarial role,” said the Rev.… Continue reading →

Arbour’s switch hands Tatman a re-election win on EBR School Board

In a surprise turn of events, East Baton Rouge Parish School Board President David Tatman won re-election Friday when his lone challenger, Jerry Arbour, who also sits on the board, decided to challenge another incumbent School Board member, Evelyn Ware-Jackson. Tatman, a Republican, is the parish School Board member whose re-election was unopposed and will consequently… Continue reading →

Open teacher slots still a moving target in EBR

Even after holding two teacher job fairs in recent days, including one in Pittsburgh, the East Baton Rouge Parish school system still has roughly 50 vacant teaching positions nearly two weeks into the 2014-15 school year. Even so, Millie Williams, executive director for human resources, told the School Board on Thursday she plans to stop hiring… Continue reading →

State directive: School districts should bus students from F, D schools

The Louisiana Department of Education is calling upon school districts to pay for bus transportation not only for children transferring out of F-ranked schools, but also for the many more students whose parents want to move their children out of the state’s D-ranked schools. This directive, issued Tuesday in a weekly department newsletter, also… Continue reading →

Southern board member calls for Mason’s resignation

Ronald Mason; Samuel C. Tolbert

At least one member of the Southern University System Board of Supervisors is calling for the resignation of President Ronald Mason, ahead of a planned discussion on the renewal of Mason’s contract this weekend. “The facts remain that President Mason has been voted down as president/chancellor, his destructive and dismantling of the system transformation plan is a… Continue reading →

LSU athletes, leaders help with move in

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING --LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander, center in purple, shakes hands with Cleveland, Ohio's Gabriel Vega, left, as Alexander greets him and his son, freshman Gabe Vega, center, and helps them with Gabe's belongings outside Laville Hall Honors House Wednesday during the school's Move-In Day, with assistance from volunteer Alexandra Willis, right foreground, a junior from Houston. At background left is parent Erica Geary, whose daughter Darian Geary of New Orleans is also an entering freshman.  Alexander, sports team members and volunteers from across the campus helped out in the event at LSU, where classes will start Monday.

About 2,500 students, many of them freshmen, moved into LSU’s residence halls on Wednesday, and many of them got some help from a few special volunteers. As cars crept through campus along Highland Road, several football and basketball players, gymnasts and even President and Chancellor F. King Alexander were there to lend a hand to students and… Continue reading →

White: Common Core test plans back on track

State Superintendent of Education John White, left, and Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols.

State Superintendent of Education John White said Wednesday that a court ruling on Tuesday will allow officials to resume development of Common Core test plans that have been in the making for four years. “It is time to get back to the focus of daily learning that takes place in the classrooms of the state of Louisiana,”… Continue reading →

ACT average drops again amid boost in test takers

State Superintendent of Education John White

Louisiana’s average score on a test of college readiness dipped for the second consecutive year, and remains among the lowest in the nation. However, state Superintendent of Education John White told reporters Tuesday that the drop again stems largely from a change in state policy and is more than offset by additional students qualifying for college.… Continue reading →