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In sharp departure, Common Core hearing sparks little interest

A topic that used to spark passionate arguments and lengthy hearings — Common Core — produced neither Friday. Instead, a public hearing on proposed revisions to the standards was over in less than 30 minutes. Only half a dozen or so speakers showed up for a gathering ordered by the Louisiana Legislature last year in a… Continue reading →

Edwards-backed bill to curb how charter schools are OK'd wins final approval

In a rare public schools win for Gov. John Bel Edwards, a bill that would nullify one method for launching charter schools won final legislative approval Thursday. The measure, Senate Bill 260, cleared the House 78-12. It now goes to Edwards, who made the legislation part of his legislative package. Other key measures backed by… Continue reading →

Bill to mandate reciting of declaration shelved

To the shock of its sponsor, a bill that would require public school students to recite a passage from the Declaration of Independence has been shelved under pressure and likely is finished for the session. “I am just astonished,” said Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, and author of the legislation, which she tabled Wednesday night amid controversy.… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge School Board accepts 2 of 10 charter school applications

The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board on Wednesday approved a charter school group from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas and a New Orleans-based group to open charter schools in the parish, while rejecting eight other groups. The IDEA charter schools are the first new charter schools the East Baton Rouge Parish school system has authorized… Continue reading →

Common Core changes face public hearings

In a prelude to final votes in the Louisiana Legislature, a public hearing is set for 9 a.m. Friday on the revised Common Core academic standards. The gathering is a requirement of legislation approved last year aimed at ending years of squabbling over the new benchmarks in reading, writing and math. The changes were… Continue reading →

Ascension School Board chooses 6 semi-finalists for superintendent position

Six semifinalists, two from Louisiana and others from Massachusetts, Texas and Iowa, will interview with Ascension Parish School Board members via Skype next week, as the interview process begins in the search for a new schools superintendent. Assistant Superintendent A. Denise Graves has been acting superintendent since former Superintendent Patrice… Continue reading →

LSU's Mike the Tiger faces 'very serious, complex and life threatening condition' with cancer diagnosis, will receive first-of-its-kind care

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- A well wisher left a plush toy with the message "Get Well Soon, Mike !". LSUÕs live tiger mascot, Mike VI, has been diagnosed with a spindle cell sarcoma, a type of cancer. Currently, MikeÕs attitude and demeanor are unchanged, and he does not appear to be in pain as he stretches while getting out of his habitat pool Monday morning May 23, 2016.

LSU’s beloved live mascot, Mike the Tiger, has been diagnosed with a rare, inoperable and terminal form of cancer. But his medical team estimates the 11-year-old, 420-pound big cat could live comfortably for one or two more years with an innovative form of therapy that is being planned for him in conjunction with Baton Rouge’s Mary Bird… Continue reading →

WBR school officials consider teachers’ pay increases, new schools as key to becoming A-rated district

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- Superintendent Wesley Watts addresses teachers at West Baton Rouge Parish School's annual kick-off conference Thursday, August 7, 2014, at the West Baton Rouge Convention & Vistors' Bureau.

Officials with the West Baton Rouge Parish school system are looking toward the future — about 34 years to be exact — and mulling over increasing teacher pay and making building improvements that possibly could mean one or two new schools by 2050. “We do have some schools that are overcrowded — especially on the… Continue reading →

Latest budget would still leave 13,000 without TOPS, set new minimum ACT of 22

State leaders are inching closer toward closing the unprecedented funding gap for TOPS scholarships, but estimates released Friday show that the most recent version of the state’s budget still would leave about 13,000 students who meet the eligibility criteria without an award. Exactly how many students will ultimately receive the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students scholarships… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge School Board greenlights Istrouma renovations

Advocate file photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Istrouma High School building on Wednesday, May 4, 2016. Wednesday, officials visited Brookstown Middle Magnet Academy to highlight the imminent reopening of Istrouma High School and encourage Brookstown's students to consider enrolling in the school.

Plans to renovate Istrouma High School and reopen the north Baton Rouge institution in time for the start of the 2017-18 school year were greenlighted Thursday night by the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board. The vote, which prompted little discussion, sets the stage for public bidding in July and the start of construction in August. That… Continue reading →

Superintendent John White says unclear if all voucher recipients will keep them

Whether all voucher recipients keep them amid state budget problems largely depends on how many students try to renew the aid for the next school year, state Superintendent of Education John White said Thursday. White told the Senate Finance Committee that, even with Gov. John Bel Edwards’ proposed 14 percent cut in voucher dollars, the state “potentially”… Continue reading →

Bill to mandate that students recite part of Declaration of Independence clears House panel

This undated image released by Britain's National Archives on July 2, 2009, shows a copy of the United States Declaration of Independence, which was discovered at the National Archives in Kew, England.   (AP Photo/National Archives)

Should Louisiana public school students be required to recite a passage from the Declaration of Independence daily? The state House Education Committee said yes Wednesday. The panel voted 6-2 for legislation that would require students in grades four, five and six to recite a portion of the historic document in the first class of… Continue reading →

Senate-passed charter school restriction approved by House committee

Reversing its earlier stance, a Louisiana House committee endorsed a bill Tuesday backed by Gov. John Bel Edwards to eliminate one way charter schools can be launched. The House Education Committee approved the bill 7-5. Senate Bill 260 next faces action on the House floor. Like similar legislation that the same panel had rejected last month,… Continue reading →

Legislation to require teaching of cursive writing in Louisiana clears House panel

Advocate Photo by MARK BALLARD  Hammond Rep. Chris Broadwater, a Republican, praised legislation Tuesday, May 17, 2016, that would require the teaching of cursive writing in public schools.

A Louisiana Senate-passed bill to require that cursive writing be taught in public schools won approval Tuesday in the House Education Committee. The measure, Senate Bill 275, won committee approval without objection. It next faces a vote on the House floor. The legislation would require that cursive writing, also known as script, start being… Continue reading →

Under fire: Obama’s transgender directive for schools sparks controversy

An order Friday by President Barack Obama’s administration that public schools must allow transgender students to use bathrooms based on their chosen gender identity triggered criticism from state lawmakers and some of Louisiana’s congressional delegation. A letter signed by 32 members of the Louisiana House asked state Attorney General Jeff Landry how the state should react to… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge school officials: We didn't intend to call Gov. John Bel Edwards a liar in pro-vouchers TV ad

An official with ties to a Baton Rouge school that had a role in a pro-voucher commercial that called Gov. John Bel Edwards a liar is disavowing the ad and said it made questionable claims. The comments were included in a letter from Walter K. Williams, chairman of the Parish Council for St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church,… Continue reading →

Report: LSU fraternity investigated for hazing gets probation, can remain on campus

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- The Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house located on LSU's campus, Wednesday, April 27, 2016.

The Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, subject of an LSU investigation of reported hazing, will not be kicked off campus, but it will remain on probation through May 2019, according to a university decision reported Thursday by The Daily Reveille student newspaper. The punishment, outlined in a letter from the Office of Student Advocacy and Accountability, restricts… Continue reading →

Audit: New Orleans school wrongfully collected voucher payments, possibly violating state law

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER --  Upperroom Bible Church Preschool and Academy Inc. collected $61,698 in voucher payments it was not entitled to according to an audit. Pastor Herbert H. Rowe and his wife Carol G. Rowe are pictured in a sign in front of the facility Monday, May 9, 2016. Carol G. Rowe served as executive director of the school.

A private school in New Orleans collected $61,698 in voucher payments from the state last year it was not entitled to receive, Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera said Monday. The school is the Upperroom Bible Church Preschool and Academy Inc., which has campuses in New Orleans East and Slidell. It’s one of dozens… Continue reading →

Livingston School Board praise outgoing superintendent, hope to name replacement by July

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- Livingston Parish Superintendent John Watson speaks to a packed room of teachers and parents during a meeting to discuss Common Core State Standards on Monday at the Livingston Parish School Board in Livingston.

The Livingston Parish School Board bid a heartfelt early goodbye to the district’s superintendent Thursday, following his announcement earlier this week that he will retire at the end of June. Superintendent John Watson said it has been an honor to work in the parish’s public school system for more than 33 years… Continue reading →

Original Baton Rouge charter school, open nearly 20 years, in line for renewal through 2026

An 18-year-old Baton Rouge middle school looks like it will safely enter its third decade of operation after it received preliminary approval Thursday to renew its charter with the East Baton Rouge Parish school system. The School Board, meeting as a “committee of the whole,” unanimously recommended extending CSAL’s operating contract, set to expire June… Continue reading →

LSU claims former Tiger Band director fired for improper scholarships to Golden Girls

Photo by RACHEL SALTZBERG  -- LSU Tiger Marching Band Director Roy King spends a moment with band members before halftime during the 2014 football season.

LSU faulted the former head of the Golden Band from Tigerland for awarding scholarships to the Golden Girls and the Color Guard without proper approval, according to an internal audit released Thursday at The Advocate’s request. Roy King, who had been in Tiger Band as a student and had been employed at LSU since June 1998, Continue reading →

Bill to return RSD schools to local control clears key legislative hurdle

After years of bickering, a bill that would return all 52 public schools overseen by the state in New Orleans to the local school board neared final legislative approval Thursday. The House endorsed the measure 54-17, and the Senate earlier backed it 36-0. Once a technical change added by the House is approved by the Senate,… Continue reading →

Louisiana Senate committee advances bill revising teacher evaluations

A heavily negotiated bill backed by Gov. John Bel Edwards that would tweak the way public schoolteachers are evaluated won easy approval Thursday in the Louisiana Senate Education Committee. The measure, Senate Bill 342, passed without objection and next faces action in the full Senate. The legislation is the result of numerous closed-door meetings among teacher… Continue reading →

School officials discuss ways to restore prominence to Istrouma High

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Brookstown Middle Magnet Academy seventh grader Lyriel Harris, 14, left, talks with East  Baton Rouge Schools Supt. Warren Drake before a presentation by officials Wednesday to Brookstown Middle Magnet Academy to highlight the imminent reopening of Istrouma High School and encourage Brookstown's students to consider enrolling in the school.

The plans for the reopening of Istrouma High School call not just for reviving the nearly century-old north Baton Rouge institution but for the re-creation of another long dead but once prominent school, Istrouma Middle Magnet. Istrouma High, which closed in 2014, and Istrouma Middle, which closed in 2004, would share the 3730 Winbourne Ave. campus.… Continue reading →

Bill targeting 'overwhelming' red tape in Louisiana schools fails; see why teacher unions oppose it

A bill that would allow superintendents to seek state waivers from what they consider burdensome rules and regulations was rejected Wednesday by the House Education Committee. The vote was 5-7. Opponents said there already are provisions in place for such complaints. “Every school board has a grievance procedure,” said Scott Richard, executive director of the… Continue reading →

House approves bill to permit students to take survey on sexual risks

With no votes to spare, a bill that would let public high school students take part in a national survey on sexual risks won approval Tuesday in the Louisiana House. The vote was 53-40, the minimum number of yes votes needed to clear the House. The measure, House Bill 402, next faces action, and an uncertain… Continue reading →

Livingston Parish school superintendent to retire in June, school board to discuss search this week

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- Livingston Parish Superintendent John Watson speaks to a packed room of teachers and parents during a meeting to discuss Common Core State Standards on Monday at the Livingston Parish School Board in Livingston.

The Livingston Parish school system will begin its search for a new superintendent sooner than expected, following Superintendent John Watson’s announcement Monday that he will retire at the end of June, six months before his contract’s end date. Watson, who took over as superintendent in 2012 following the retirement of Bill Spear, said… Continue reading →

Louisiana high school graduation rate shows second highest rise in decade

While always low nationally, Louisiana’s public high school graduation rate is 77.5 percent after the second largest yearly increase in the past decade, state officials announced Monday. The 2015 figure, the latest available, is up 2.9 percentage points over 2014. “Really, it is clear evidence that when you raise expectations for young people, they will follow… Continue reading →

'We don't have the support': Gov. John Bel Edwards' schools legislative agenda mostly dead

AP Photo by MELINDA DESLATTE -- Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards talks about his first 100 days since taking office in January, at a press conference on April 19.

With several bills already on life support, Gov. John Bel Edwards has pulled the plug on his high-profile education proposals to restrict access to vouchers and curb the growth of charter schools. “We don’t have the support we need to advance those bills,” said Erin Monroe Wesley, special counsel for Edwards who also oversees legislative affairs.… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge school system showcases public school programs at event

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Denise Verrett, 15, paints a painting of Bob Marley using the fauvism technique during the EBR School systemÕs "CelEBRate" block party, Saturday, April 30, 2016, at McKinley Middle School in Baton Rouge, La.

The East Baton Rouge Parish school system’s public and magnet schools showcased their academic and extracurricular programs during the first “CelEBRate” event at McKinley Middle Magnet School on Saturday. After thunderstorms forced the event from the downtown riverfront to McKinley, parents, volunteers and community and school leaders packed into the narrow hallways as students participated in… Continue reading →