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Bid to ban out-of-school suspensions for youngest students sparks pushback; 7,400 suspended last year

Advocate staff file photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Public school buses are parked in front of a school in Lafayette.

Last year, more than 7,400 Louisiana public school students in kindergarten and first, second and third grades were handed out-of-school suspensions. Senate President Pro Tem Sharon Broome, D-Baton Rouge, wants to all but ban the practice, which is sparking controversy. “I am not trying to excuse bad behavior,” Broome said. “I think there should be… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge School Board agrees to merge 5 academies, holds off on recommendation to demolish 90-year-old school building

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING --  Wyandotte School building, built in 1925. The East Baton Rouge Parish school system has used the building for several different purposes through the years, including being used for a decade as Pre-K center. Currently it is an alternative school, known as Greenville Alternative at Wyandotte.

Five small, alternative schools in Baton Rouge, known as “superintendent academies,” will be merged into just three when the 2015-16 school year starts in August, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board decided Thursday. The vote in favor of the merger was unanimous. The estimated annual savings is as much as $3.6 million. And, at… Continue reading →

LSU students named Truman, Goldwater scholars

Two LSU juniors are among the handful of students from across the country selected for one of the nation’s most prestigious scholarships this year. Michael Beyer, of New Orleans, has been named a 2015 Harry S. Truman scholar, and Lafayette native Mollie Smoak has been named a Barry M. Goldwater scholar, the university announced this week.… Continue reading →

State loan for charter school hits snag

Fearful of setting a precedent that could put state government on the hook for years to come; the State Bond Commission Thursday delayed approving a loan for a Baton Rouge charter school targeting at-risk youth. Sarah Broome, executive director of the THRIVE Charter Boarding School, said she was concerned about delaying too much longer because… Continue reading →

LSU student newspaper: ‘Shameful’ lack of students at State Capitol rally against budget cuts

Advocate Photo by MARK BALLARD -- The Louisiana Council of Student Body Presidents rallied Wednesday on the steps of the State Capitol in support of stable funding for colleges and universities.

About 150 Louisiana college students shouted Wednesday from the State Capitol steps and took turns pleading with members of a key legislative budget panel to avoid potentially catastrophic cuts to higher education funding in the coming year. But the LSU student newspaper, The Daily Reveille, in an editorial posted on its web site Wednesday, expressed… Continue reading →

Pro-Common Core group using stuffed unicorns to make its case

Advocate Photo by MARK BALLARD -- A pro-Common Core group called the Alliance for Better Classrooms is launching a marketing campaign to defeat legislative efforts to repeal the overhaul, and distributing stuffed unicorns to state lawmakers  to dispel what they call myths about the issue. Tags on the stuffed animals say "Unicorns are not real. And neither are most of the things you've heard about Common Core." Every legislator received a stuff animal, including anti-Common Core leaders like Republican State Rep. Brett Geymann, of Lake Charles.

Using stuffed pink unicorns to dispel what they call myths about Common Core, officials of a group that backs the standards said Wednesday that they are launching a marketing campaign to defeat legislative efforts to repeal the overhaul. The push is led by the Alliance for Better Classrooms political action committee, or ABC PAC. The… Continue reading →

Warren Drake may start as a consultant to the East Baton Rouge school system before officially taking over as superintendent

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Warren Drake, lone finalist to be the next East Baton Rouge Parish school superintendent, speaks to District 1 representative Mark Bellue, foreground, 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.

Before taking over as East Baton Rouge Parish’s next school superintendent, Warren Drake is likely to spend May and June as a consultant, working in tandem with outgoing Superintendent Bernard Taylor. “As you know, there can only be one superintendent,” Drake said Tuesday. Taylor’s three-year contract does not expire until June 30 and he has… Continue reading →

Fierce debate erupts over Common Core, but BESE panel still approves review plans

Despite renewed bickering over Common Core, a panel of Louisiana’s top school board Tuesday approved state plans on how to review the current, controversial standards. The aim is to have revised guidelines ready for final approval by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education by December 2016. However, the process is sure to trigger months… Continue reading →

Petitioners seeking return of shuttered Istrouma High to the East Baton Rouge school system

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Carnell Washington, right, a member of the East Baton Rouge Federation of Teachers, holds a clipboard steady Monday, April 13, 2015, as passer-by James Ruffin, 39, signs the back of a card petitioning seeking the return of shuttered Istrouma High School on Winbourne Avenue from the state to the parish school system.

Since Istrouma High School closed 11 months ago, the corner of Winbourne Avenue and North 38th Street hasn’t seen much activity. Ground-floor windows and doors are covered by metal shutters, and the parking lot is empty most days. On Monday afternoon, though, a handful of alumni and other supporters arrived with signs and petitions, and they… Continue reading →

Baker school system finds itself at a crossroads; some say the future is rosy while others want to rejoin the East Baton Rouge district

Photo provided by the Mitchell Family -- Pictured from left, Anthony Mitchell, Blythe Gross (mother), and Michael Mitchell

The city of Baker in the mid-1990s gambled its future prosperity on gaining its freedom from the East Baton Rouge Parish school system. Two decades later, it’s looking more and more like that may have been a bad bet. Fueled by public anger over court-ordered busing and subsequent white flight, Baker leaders in 1995 launched a legal… Continue reading →

Southern University nursing programs honored

The Louisiana Nurses Foundation has recognized Southern University’s graduate nursing program as the best in the state. For the third time in five years, Southern’s nursing program has earned the university the group’s “Nursing School of the Year — Advanced Practice Program” distinction. “This award serves as additional evidence of the excellent quality of nursing… Continue reading →

Big increase seen for Louisiana public high school enrollment in courses for college credit

Public high school enrollment in classes that can translate into college credit rose 18.6 percent in the current school year, the state Department of Education announced Thursday. Students enrolled in 33,231 of the classes — called Advanced Placement — compared to 28,009 during the 2013-14 school year. Louisiana has long ranked at or near the bottom… Continue reading →

Nixing programs, laying off workers, eventually closing all budget-cut possibilities, Louisiana higher education leaders tell key panel

Advocate Photo by MARK BALLARD -- State Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington, quizzed Wednesday the leaders of Louisiana's higher education systems about budget matters as part of Louisiana House Appropriations committee hearing.

Louisiana colleges are at risk of cutting back programs and services for students, losing accreditation, laying off workers and, eventually, closing altogether under the grim budget picture they face in the coming year, higher education leaders told a key House panel Wednesday. “It’s really not possible for us to manage any cut in the coming year,” Southern… Continue reading →

State Superintendent of Education John White: Bobby Jindal's budget would derail test plans

Advocate Photo by MARK BALLARD -- State Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, on Tuesday grilled Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White at a House Appropriations Committee hearing. White said the budget the Jindal administration has proposed leaves little money for testing students.

State Superintendent of Education John White asked a key House panel Tuesday to revamp Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposed operating budget and prevent Louisiana’s public school test program from being decimated. “I know testing is not something kids love to do,” White told the House Appropriations Committee. “But it is necessary to ensure quality.” White… Continue reading →

With enrollment booming, Central schools superintendent Mike Faulk suggests increasing class sizes, with new elementary possibly on horizon

Advocate file photo by BILL FEIG -- Michael Faulk, superintendent of the Central Community School System, speaks at the Baton Rouge Press Club in July.

The Central Community School System has been experiencing growing pains — enough to prompt Superintendent Michael Faulk on Monday to propose raising class sizes in elementary grades and spending an estimated $2.8 million to help maintain the system’s older schools. The Central School Board plans to take these items up again at future meetings.… Continue reading →

Louisiana continues to improve its public high school graduation rate, hit record rate of 74.6% in 2014

While low nationally, Louisiana’s public high school graduation rate rose in 2014 to a record high of 74.6 percent, the state Department of Education announced Monday. The improvement was the fourth in a row and represents a rise of nearly 10 percentage points in less than a decade, officials said. “The increases realized… Continue reading →

New push to scrap Common Core in Louisiana will launch in a few days; this time Bobby Jindal says it's a top priority

Just a year ago last week, two key anti-Common Core bills died in the Louisiana House Education Committee, twin blows from which opponents never recovered. Has sentiment changed since then? A new push to scrap Common Core will be launched when the 2015 legislative session begins April 13, and this time, Gov. Bobby Jindal… Continue reading →

Two key factors reasons why East Baton Rouge schools facing fewer budget cuts in 2015-16

For the past few years, the joy of spring break in East Baton Rouge Parish public schools has been clouded by doomsday scenarios of imminent budget cuts. Two years ago, school officials were predicting $30 million in likely cuts. A year ago, the early prediction was

East Baton Rouge School Board votes to close Career Academy

Facing down a parade of students, community and business leaders, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board on Thursday voted to close a career-focused charter school in north Baton Rouge, meaning more than 200 students will have to transfer somewhere else next year. Career Academy, which almost closed a year ago, sought one… Continue reading →

Warren Drake named next East Baton Rouge Parish schools superintendent

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Warren Drake, chosen Thursday to lead the  East Baton Rouge Parish school system, shows a copy of his 'First 100 Days' plan as he speaks before the parish School Board on March 26.

The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board on Thursday unanimously selected as its next superintendent former Zachary Superintendent Warren Drake, the only person they seriously considered for the job. “I cannot tell you how excited I am for this moment,” Drake said. “I’m so honored. I think we are going to do some great things together.”… Continue reading →

Public school students entering college up 6% in 2014; Superintendent John White credits higher standards

Public high school students enrolling in college rose by 6 percent last year and 16 percent since 2011, state officials said Thursday. Students from low-income families and minority youngsters accounted for half of last year’s increase, the state Department of Education announced. “The numbers are positive but not surprising,” state Superintendent of Education John White said.… Continue reading →

LSU professor selected to head Missouri School of Journalism

David Kurpius

David Kurpius, LSU associate vice chancellor of enrollment management and professor of mass communication, has been named dean of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, according to a news release from LSU. Previously, Kurpius served as associate dean of LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication, as well as director of Student Media at LSU. He will… Continue reading →

Cristo Rey Baton Rouge High may open in 2016; students work at local businesses to pay tuition

Photo provided by Tiffany Brown -- The Rev. John Foley spoke to The Rotary Club at Drusilla Seafood in Baton Rouge on Thursday about the Cristo Rey high schools.

Want to persuade inner-city teenagers to enjoy school and generate enough money to pay for a college prep, Jesuit education? Simple. Put them to work. The Rev. John Foley, a Chicago native and Jesuit priest, said Wednesday the idea of having students work full-time jobs to pay for their education was borne of desperation, not careful… Continue reading →

Agreement reached in Tangipahoa Parish student assignment plan, effective in 2016-17 school year if judge approves

Attorneys for both sides of Tangipahoa Parish’s desegregation case agreed Wednesday on a student assignment plan for desegregating the parish’s schools, the school district announced. If the federal judge overseeing the case approves the plan, the School Board will use the 2015-16 school year to notify parents and otherwise prepare for full implementation of the plan… Continue reading →

Tangipahoa school desegregation settlement talks could lead to an agreement soon, attorney says

Baker School Board’s plate is full with resignation of superintendent, arrest of former maintenance supervisor, and possible state takeover of Bakerfield Elementary

Ulysses Joseph

LSU Survey finds people 'like the idea' behind Common Core; but label lost in partisan rhetoric

Louisiana adults seem to be getting their “facts” about Common Core from partisan rhetoric and basing their opinion, for the most part, on their political persuasion, according to the most recent chapter of LSU’s 2015 Louisiana Survey that was released Tuesday. But the poll also found lots of support for the concept — higher academic standards… Continue reading →

PAR: State should focus on innovation to build industry

Louisiana colleges and universities could beef up their research efforts and strengthen the state’s economy by being more efficient, according to a report out from the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana. “Louisiana is decades behind other states on the intellectual infrastructure for innovation because some leaders, by and large, did not prioritize the economic… Continue reading →

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

How the state tentatively 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… 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, chosen Thursday to lead the  East Baton Rouge Parish school system, shows a copy of his 'First 100 Days' plan as he speaks before the parish School Board on March 26.

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 →