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Study sees 'serious flaws' in Louisiana's proposed system for grading Pre-K programs

How the state plans to grade Louisiana’s revamped pre-K classes has “serious flaws” that need attention, two influential education groups said Monday morning. The proposed grading plan fails to spell out how programs can be improved, relies too heavily on a single grade to judge quality and lacks guarantees needed for the fairnes of the reviews,… Continue reading →

Southern University audit: System was late reporting financial picture to state

The Southern University System was nearly two months late in submitting its annual finance report to the state, and the report was riddled with errors and omissions, according to a new report from the state Legislative Auditor’s Office. The report found that the cash-strapped historically black college system’s expenses exceeded its revenues during the 2010… Continue reading →

Police allege former Baker school system supervisor illegally purchased and then stole 717 items: gazebo, saws, folding tables, fireplaces, disco globes

Emmitt Whitfield

The former maintenance supervisor for Baker public schools was booked Thursday night in parish prison for the second time in four months, this time accused of buying without permission and stealing 717 items worth an estimated $128,000, enough apparently to stock a section of a Home Depot. The unauthorized purchases range from a gazebo to 117… Continue reading →

Among Warren Drake's plans for East Baton Rouge schools: Value teachers, remove disruptive students from classroom

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Warren Drake, lone finalist to be the next East Baton Rouge Parish school superintendent, shows a copy of his "First 100 Days" plan as he speaks before the parish School Board, Thursday, Mar. 26, 2015, at the Instructional Resource Center. Drake, the former superintendent of top-rated Zachary schools, was named the finalist by the school board last Wednesday after just 45 minutes of examining the 10 applicants for the job.

Warren Drake suggested the best way East Baton Rouge Parish schools can grow in public support and student enrollment is to invite the community back to the schools, support teachers and make clear that parents are the customer and that education is about what’s best for kids. “Everyone has to feel like they are important and… Continue reading →

LSU's Acacia fraternity booted from campus following university hazing probe

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Both foot and vehicular traffic pass the Acacia Fraternity house on LSU's Campus, Thursday, Mar. 26, 2015. The fraternity has been shuttered -- at least through 2018 -- after the university concluded that it had hazed new members last fall. According to LSU, the university was notified of several allegations against the fraternity, including forced alcohol consumption and physical violence.

LSU’s Acacia fraternity has been shuttered — at least through 2018 — after a university investigation concluded that the group had hazed new members last fall. According to LSU, the university was notified of several allegations against the fraternity, including forced alcohol consumption and physical violence. The university says it confirmed those and other Student Code… Continue reading →

Southern University hosts pep rally for high schoolers

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Southern University Human Jukebox marching band members including mellophone players Lorrell Johnson, left, and Damien Carter,both from New Orleans, blast out one of several songs designed to inspire high school students at a recruiting seminar inside the school's  Student Union Wednesday.

Several hundred high schoolers gathered around Southern University’s Smith-Brown Memorial Union on Wednesday afternoon. A DJ played. Girls danced in sync. The Human Jukebox, Southern University’s famed marching band, even made an appearance. The pep rally had a dual purpose: cap a day of learning about financial aid and money management, and to try to lure students… Continue reading →

Southern University’s Ronald Mason among 3 finalists for University of the District of Columbia job

Ronald Mason

Southern University System President Ronald Mason has been named a finalist in the search for the University of the District of Columbia’s next president. Mason is slated to be on the UDC campus April 3 for interviews. Two other finalists for the job will interview this week and April 10, according to the university.… Continue reading →

Llorens appointed president of proposed BR high school

James Llorens

James Llorens, former chancellor of Southern University’s Baton Rouge campus, has been appointed president of the proposed Cristo Rey Baton Rouge High School. The news was announced Tuesday jointly by the school’s organizers in Baton Rouge as well as the nonprofit group, New Schools for Baton Rouge, which is providing startup money for the proposed private Catholic… Continue reading →

LSU's Acacia fraternity indefinitely suspended, under investigation for alleged 'behavioral misconduct'

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Aerial view of LSU campus in Baton Rouge, La.

An LSU fraternity is on indefinite suspension amid allegations of “behavioral misconduct.” LSU confirmed Tuesday that it is investigating claims involving the Acacia fraternity but declined to elaborate on the specific nature of those claims. “LSU is in contact and working with the Acacia national office, the alumni and chapter leadership,” LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard said.… Continue reading →

Drake, favorite to lead Baton Rouge schools, draws praise from wide array of admirers

Warren Drake

Warren Drake, the favorite to become the next East Baton Rouge Parish schools superintendent, has left a long trail of professional admirers as he has risen through the ranks of public education. “I don’t think they could pick a better horse,” said Zachary Mayor David Amrhein, the city where Drake once served as schools superintendent. “He’s… Continue reading →

LSU Board revamps number of scholarships its members give

The LSU Board of Supervisors has quietly agreed to give out fewer of its hand-picked scholarships and provided structure to the little-known program. A legislative audit last year raised questions about the Board of Supervisors scholarships, which have been seen as a perk bestowed upon the well-connected, governor-appointed board members. The audit found… Continue reading →

Why Louisiana Association of Educators favors a legislative-led review of Common Core

The Common Core academic standards should be reviewed under a process initiated by the Legislature rather than state education leaders, the president of the Louisiana Association of Educators said Friday. “This would provide appropriate oversight to complement the process and ensure that students, teachers, schools and districts are not impacted negatively during the review process,” Debbie Meaux,… Continue reading →

Pep talk by McKinley Magnet principal raises concerns about Common Core test security

Wiley Brazier

The principal of McKinley Middle Academic Magnet School in Baton Rouge provoked an immediate sit-down with Central Office administrators Tuesday with an end-of-the-day intercom pep talk that some listeners took as an admission he had been reading what students were writing that week on standardized tests. Liz Frischhertz, chief of accountability and assessment for East Baton… Continue reading →

Uncertainty, confusion over Louisiana budget for coming year apparent as LSU students hold forum on threat of cuts

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  LSU President and Chancellor Dr. F. King Alexander answers a question at a public forum hosted by Geaux Vote LSU on the past and present cuts on LouisianaÕs colleges and universities in the Manship School of Mass Communications building Wednesday, March 18, 2015.  Other panelists were University of Louisiana System President Dr. Sandra Woodley and Jan Moller with the Louisiana Budget Project.

LSU students had several questions about the state budget crisis and its potential impact on higher education during a campus forum Wednesday night. Will their degrees become less valuable if Louisiana’s colleges and universities suffer the deep cuts that have been threatened? Are there campuses across the state at risk of closing? Will students sign up for… Continue reading →

LSU Alumni Association names 6 to Hall of Distinction

The LSU Alumni Association’s Hall of Distinction will induct an Olympian, a construction CEO and a former associate athletic director, among others, later this month. The university announced on Wednesday that this year’s inductees are: Lolo Jones, an American track-and-field and bobsled athlete; Newtron Group founder, owner and CEO Newton Thomas; Herbert H. “Herb” Vincent Jr., SEC… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge Parish School Board moves quickly to select lone superintendent finalist, and it was unanimous

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- East Baton Rouge Parish School Board member Tarvald Smith speaks during discussion at a meeting Wednesday in deciding the search criteria for finding a replacement for current school board president Bernard Taylor. Board member Dr. Kenyetta Nelson-Smith, left, listens.

It took the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board 45 minutes Wednesday before it unanimously named Warren Drake as the lone finalist for superintendent, meaning he is very likely the next leader of the second-largest school district in Louisiana. Drake is being asked to return a week from now, on March 26 at 6 p.m., to… Continue reading →

LSU could soon alter little-known program allowing system president, Board of Supervisors members to grant scholarships

LSU could soon alter a little-known program that gives its president and members of the system Board of Supervisors the ability to grant coveted scholarships to students. State legislators started eyeing the Board of Supervisors scholarship program after an audit last year found inconsistencies and other lapses in how the tuition-covering grants were doled out.… Continue reading →

Bobby Jindal unveils plan to rid Louisiana of Common Core with specific goals in mind

Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA), a potential 2016 GOP candidate, speaks at a APPs State luncheon discussion on Common Core at the Mayflower Hotel on Feb. 5, 2015 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

The superintendent said the governor’s initiative is “quite literally a political plan.” The two measures discussed on Wednesday will be among a host of proposals debated... Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge Parish School Superintendent Bernard Taylor: Promotion of 112 administrators from interim to permanent status won't tie successor's hands

Advocate file photo by ANGELA MAJOR --  Bernard Taylor Jr., superintendent of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, speaks at a 2014 meeting at the School Board Office.

As the search for his replacement nears the finish line, outgoing East Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent Bernard Taylor promoted 112 administrators from interim to permanent status, giving them extra job protection that will continue after he leaves June 30. The list of 112, labeled as administrative reassignments, were reported publicly Friday afternoon and the… Continue reading →

President Obama nominates Southern University graduate for major general in U.S. Marine Corps

Photo provided by SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY -- U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Craig Crenshaw, a Southern University graduate, was nominated by President Barack Obama to become a major general.

A Southern University graduate was nominated to become a major general in the U.S. Marine Corps, the university announced Monday. Brig. Gen. Craig Crenshaw was nominated by President Barack Obama to receive a second star. Crenshaw, 52, is one of the 10 military generals who graduated from Southern University. He is the only Marine among the… Continue reading →

Among the outliers: 8 percent of Central students opt out of Common Core tests on Monday

As Monday approached, social media in Central lit up with parents making the last-minute decision to have their kids skip the first day of Common Core standardized tests. The number of opt-outs stood at about 90 Thursday, grew to 120 by Sunday, and on test day Monday reached 153, Central Schools Superintendent Michael Faulk said. “It… Continue reading →

Most Louisiana school districts had 99% to 100% participation on first day of Common Core testing

Concerns that large numbers of Louisiana public school students would skip the Common Core standardized tests appear unfounded, with the state’s education superintendent saying 99 percent showed up Monday for the opening day of exams. Some parents who oppose the education standards have sought to keep their children from taking the tests, and education officials… Continue reading →

Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret to head LSU Foundation

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Stephen Moret, Secretary of Louisiana Economic Development, answers questions last year.

A key adviser to Gov. Bobby Jindal will soon take over as head of the LSU Foundation, the university’s main fundraising arm. Stephen Moret, who has served as Louisiana Economic Development secretary since 2008, will leave LED to become the LSU Foundation’s president and CEO in May, the private LSU group’s board of directors announced Monday.… Continue reading →

Southern resumes search for top leadership position

Southern University has revived its stalled search for a new leader — kick-starting the process this month under a tweaked organizational structure. Officials expressed optimism at the new search committee’s first meeting: They will find the right leader, despite the financial struggles the historically black university system has faced in recent years. They are looking… Continue reading →

Officials pinpoint two reasons for failing Bakerfield Elementary: teacher absenteeism and staff turnover

More than 40 people attended a Baker School Board work session Tuesday night to hear about a proposed reconstitution plan for Bakerfield Elementary. Bakerfield has received a grade of F from the state Department of Education for the past four years, making it eligible for takeover by the Recovery School District.… Continue reading →

Buzzfeed: Former Louisiana Tech student says he witnessed racist chant during Sigma Alpha Epsilon party in 2010

The Sigma Alpha Epsilon house at the University of Oklahoma on Monday, March. 9, 2015, in Norman, Oklahoma. The SAE fraternity has been banned from campus after a video surfaced of members shouting and singing racial slurs. President David Boren of the University of Oklahoma severed the school's ties with a national fraternity on Monday and ordered that its on-campus house be shuttered after several members took part in a racist chant caught in an online video.(AP Photo/Nick Oxford)

Louisiana Tech University says it has no knowledge nor record of fraternity members repeating racist chants there, despite a former student’s claims to a national media outlet this week. “This type of reprehensible and destructive behavior is not tolerated from anyone attending or associated with our institution,” the university said in a statement to The Advocate on… Continue reading →

With uncertainty over Common Core tests, East Baton Rouge school district looking at other tests to determine magnet program admissions

Uncertainty over new Common Core tests, including the possibility that significant numbers of students will do worse on them than on past standardized tests, is prompting the East Baton Rouge Parish school system to consider alternate ways of screening students for admission to many of its magnet programs. The controversial new tests, known as Continue reading →

Legislative auditor: Better enrollment projections would mean fewer shortfalls in school funding

The state should change the way annual school aid requests are formulated to avoid mid-year budget shortfalls, Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera said in an audit issued Monday. Under current methods, Purpera said, the Legislature has had to come up with up to $56 million in extra aid after the initial appropriation because student enrollment estimates were off… Continue reading →

LSU cancels Skanska contract

Provided by LSU -- Renderings of the Patrick F. Taylor Hall, home of the LSU College of Engineering. The state has canceled Skanska’s $54 million contract for the renovation and expansion of Patrick F. Taylor Hall and instead will move forward on the project with Lemoine Co.

The state has canceled Skanska’s $54 million contract for the renovation and expansion of Patrick F. Taylor Hall and instead will move forward on the project with Lemoine Co. A Skanska-MAPP Construction joint venture announced the team had won the contract in June. Skanska’s piece of the contract was valued at $54 million, with the total contract… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge School Board agrees in principle to outside financial and performance audit, but wants more details

East Baton Rouge Parish School Board members on Thursday went along in principle with the idea of hiring an outside firm to conduct an audit of both the school system’s finances and its performance. They, however, raised many questions they want answered before voting on the idea when the board meets again March 17. Board Vice… Continue reading →

Southern University president-chancellor search begins

Advertisements for Southern University’s newly created president and chancellor position could start appearing in national publications as early as next week. The panel that has been charged with identifying a new leader for the system and Southern University’s Baton Rouge campus hopes to identify three finalists for the post by June, and the full system board will… Continue reading →

BESE rejects bid to aid students who opt out of Common Core exams

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Jayden Hart, 9, points at the 'number line' on the overhead projector image in fourth grade math teacher Wendy Richardson's class at Bains Elementary School, during a fluency exercise to let her kids practice what they've learned about rounding off numbers in St. Francisville.  Despite lawsuits and other arguments, Common Core is being taught in classrooms, including Bains Elementary and Bains Lower Elementary in West Feliciana Parish.

A bid to let students skip Common Core tests this month without schools being penalized was rejected Thursday by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. BESE turned down the proposal, with four in favor and seven opposed. Jane Smith, a member of BESE, former superintendent of the Bossier Parish… Continue reading →

Higher ed leader plans new initiative for legislative session

Higher Education Commissioner Joe Rallo is planning to hold regular meetings with various stakeholders from across the state during the upcoming legislative session. The new “Commissioner’s Roundtable” initiative has been planned as a way to keep business and industry leaders, faculty, staff and others outside of Baton Rouge engaged in legislative issues related that will impact higher… Continue reading →