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What’s the future of Louisiana rating public schools with letter grades? Many think it’s senseless

The future of letter grades for public schools is unclear less than five years after the Louisiana Legislature ordered them to begin. The annual marks, which have sparked bitter arguments, were already partly on hold for the past two years, and Louisiana’s top school board will be asked next week to extend that another… Continue reading →

Louisiana Department of Education hopes to improve quality of early childhood learning at private daycares

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Four-year-olds Jordan Brown, left, Darrien Jackson and Jason Demoulin, right, play and practice skills in the 'Housekeeping' area Thursday at Baton Rouge Christian Academy, a private daycare on Monroe Ave. A 2012 law, Act 3, calls for higher standards for private daycares, and daycares will soon get letter grades for performance, like elementary and secondary schools do now.

The windowless concrete building is not much to look at, but to the families who have made their way there, Baton Rouge Christian Academy is a find, offering a rare commodity: affordable, high-quality child care. Candis McClelland’s daughter Addison has spent much of her short six months on earth at the day… Continue reading →

Higher ed would be cut $211M by Bobby Jindal's proposed budget

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration presented a budget recommendation on Friday that largely spares colleges and universities from what they feared would be catastrophic cuts in the coming year. But higher education leaders warn that there’s still a lot of work to be done before lawmakers finalize a state spending plan. The Jindal plan relies on $526… Continue reading →

Politics blog: Will Bobby Jindal-John White feud affect Louisiana governor’s budget plans?

Advocate file photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- State Superintendent of Education John White

A bitter disagreement between Gov. Bobby Jindal and state Superintendent of Education John White over Common Core may show up again when Jindal’s spending plans are unveiled on Friday morning. State aid for public schools, dollars for standardized test contracts and funding for the state Department of Education are all in play in the budget amid… Continue reading →

Politics blog: Make higher ed the top funding priority, education leaders urge a day before Bobby Jindal’s budget recommendation

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- LSU freshman student Maria Rodriguez, does some last minute studying for an upcoming Math final exam Monday afternoon at the foot of the Memorial Tower on campus. The exams, which signal the end of the fall semester, continue through Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014.

The leaders of Louisiana’s college and university systems and the state commissioner of higher education have sent a joint letter to Gov. Bobby Jindal, urging the governor to look for ways to keep funding steady for higher ed in the face of a $1.6 billion funding shortfall in the coming year. Jindal’s administration will… Continue reading →

LSU's Daily Reveille newspaper commits entire paper front to topic of higher education budget cuts

Screen capture of The Daily Reveille's twitter post.

With scheduled budget cuts imminent, LSU's Daily Reveille devoted an entire paper front to the topic for Thursday. Higher education in Louisiana faces a $383 million reduction, according to LSU Budget Hub, with the possibility of the proposed budget cut reducing the roughly 13.5 percent of the University's revenue coming from the state to 6 percent.… Continue reading →

Southern University job fair attracts over 400 students and 70 companies

SU Media Relations  photo by NAVILLE OUBRE - -  Southern University Career Fair in F.G. Clark Activity Center. ExxonMobil representatives Claudette Bradford and Jarvis Hays, at left, speak to Southern University mechanical engineering major Jaylen Scott on Wednesday during the University's Career Fair where company representatives can meet with students about job opportunities with their company.

More than 400 students, graduates and others sought interviews and information from company representatives at the booths of more than 70 companies and school systems Wednesday at Southern University’s Career Exploration Day. The event was coordinated by Southern’s Office of Career Services in partnership with the school’s Department of Education, Arts and Humanities. Some of the companies… Continue reading →

Schools chief John White optimistic new teacher reviews will win BESE approval

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Louisiana State Superintendent of Education John White speaks in the cafeteria of the W.D. & Mary Baker Smith Career Center on Oct. 6, 2014. White was visiting schools around Lafayette Parish as part of his Louisiana Believes tour.

State Superintendent of Education John White said Wednesday he is optimistic Louisiana’s top school board next week will approve key changes in how public school teachers are evaluated, including less reliance on student test scores. The recommendations stem from a panel of educators and others — called the Act 240 subcommittee — that… Continue reading →

Teacher, principal of year semifinalists include Southeast Middle, St. Amant High, Park Ridge Magnet and West Feliciana High

The semifinalists for Louisiana Teacher of the Year were announced Wednesday and they include a math teacher at Southeast Middle in Baton Rouge and a social studies teacher at St. Amant High School in Ascension Parish. Michelle Perk, of Southeast Middle, and Danielle Delaune, of St. Amant High School, are among 18 semifinalists who… Continue reading →

Louisiana sets uniform campus sexual-assault policies to rein in ‘wild, wild West’ atmosphere

Advocate staff file photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  LSU Quad

Louisiana’s public colleges must follow a new statewide policy for handling sexual-assault allegations and bolstering prevention efforts, though the broad guidelines stop short of requiring a specific prosecution response. The Board of Regents approved the state’s first “Uniform Policy on Sexual Misconduct” at its Monday meeting. The guidelines, prompted by legislative questions about the adequacy of campus… Continue reading →

Three of four candidates blast Common Core in second gubernatorial debate

Photo provided by Alexandria Burris/The (Shreveport) Times -- Sen. David Vitter, State Rep. John Bel Edwards, Secretary of State Jay Dardenne and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle.

Three of four contenders for governor Tuesday blasted the hot button push for new academic standards called Common Core during a forum in Shreveport. The critics are Democrat state Rep. John Bel Edwards, of Amite, who said he has never flip-flopped on the issue, and Republicans David Vitter and Scott Angelle. “We… Continue reading →

New federal program offers free lunches to all students in qualifying school districts; Baton Rouge is on board, but others ‘wait and see’

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Students at Broadmoor Middle Magnet School go through the lunch service line Monday. The cafeteria staff serves about 400 students each day.

Erasing differences between rich and poor students, schools throughout Louisiana are offering free meals to all children. More than 300 schools have adopted a federal program for high-poverty school districts since it became available this school year. The largest school district to sign up for the free-meals-for-all students program is the East Baton Rouge Parish school system,… Continue reading →

Louisiana higher education leaders discuss funding threat

State legislative leaders offered no firm solutions or big ideas Monday for higher education officials who are bracing for deep budget cuts in the coming year. “We have a structural problem in the budget and the state education system,” said Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, Senate Education Committee chairman. “It exists from pre-K through postsecondary and up through graduate… Continue reading →

La. Supt. of Education White worried Gov. Jindal's budget plan could include 'devastating' blow to standardized testing

State Superintendent of Education John White; La. Gov. Bobby Jindal

State Superintendent of Education John White said Monday he is concerned that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget proposal will exclude dollars for standardized tests, which he said could cost Louisiana $800 million in federal aid. Jindal, whose office disputed the comments, is set to unveil Friday his spending plans for the budget year that begins on July 1.… Continue reading →

After Bobby Jindal, what's next for Louisiana public schools?

Advocate staff file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- The Louisiana State Capitol and grounds.

As the four candidates for governor prepare for a debate on public school issues, views vary on what should top the education agenda for the one who wins the race. How to improve student achievement — Louisiana has long ranked near the bottom nationally — is one of the recurring themes, especially in light… Continue reading →

In-demand college majors may cost more

As state leaders look for ways to address what threaten to be cataclysmic cuts to higher education funding in Louisiana, one idea that has been discussed is whether colleges could charge higher fees for more in-demand majors. In practice, the idea is simple: Engineering majors, for example, would ultimately pay more for their degrees than English… Continue reading →

Southern University board approves merging of top two leadership positions; here are the next steps

Advocate staff file photo by Bill Feig -- Aerial photo of Southern University.

The Southern University System has voted overwhelmingly in favor of merging its president and Baton Rouge campus chancellor roles. The board on Friday also launched a search committee to identify a candidate for the position, but opted not to hire a national search firm to conduct the search. The position merger will take… Continue reading →

David Vitter on replacing Common Core: Idea you can only have strong standards by surrendering control to national elites 'is just crazy'

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- U.S. Sen. David Vitter

Stepping up his criticism of Common Core, U.S. Sen. David Vitter, a contender for governor, said Friday the state should form a panel of teachers, parents and others to draft new classroom standards. “The idea that you can only have strong, challenging standards if you surrender control to national elites is just crazy,” Vitter said… Continue reading →

EBR superintendent proposes new school options to compete with charters

Bernard Taylor

In a bid to combat growing competition from independent charter schools, Superintendent Bernard Taylor on Thursday trumpeted the school system’s efforts to help children academically and laid out potential new instructional offerings at 17 schools ranging from digital puppetry to Lego art. “This district cannot afford to lose students to untried, untested experiments,” Taylor said.… Continue reading →

Higher education leaders to seek tuition authority

As Louisiana colleges and universities brace for potentially catastrophic budget cuts in the coming year, higher education leaders again plan to urge the state Legislature to give schools the flexibility to set tuition prices without legislative interference. But, as in years past, even supporters of the proposal say they expect it will be hard to convince state lawmakers… Continue reading →

What do Baton Rouge parents want to see in public schools? Nearly 500 residents voice their opinions

In parks, churches, schools and community centers all over East Baton Rouge Parish, small groups of residents have gathered over the past three weeks to offer their thoughts on the current state of local public education and what to do about it. “Desegregation and what happened in the courts … let’s get over it. I don’t want… Continue reading →

Southern again weighing leadership merge to handle catastrophic budget cuts

Faced with what could be catastrophic budget cuts in the coming year, Southern University leaders are again considering whether to merge the system president and Baton Rouge campus chancellor roles. The move comes just months after leaders considered, then abruptly dropped, talks on joining the two positions, as LSU did a few years ago. The proposal… Continue reading →

John White: Louisiana on schedule to give Common Core tests; schools will get zeroes for avoiding them

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Louisiana State Superintendent of Education John White speaks in the cafeteria of the W.D. & Mary Baker Smith Career Center on Oct. 6, 2014. White was visiting schools around Lafayette Parish as part of his Louisiana Believes tour.

Tackling a bubbling controversy, state Superintendent of Education John White says state and federal rules require Louisiana to proceed with plans to give Common Core tests next month. “We are on schedule to test the third week of March,” White told the Superintendents’ Advisory Council on Thursday, a key advisory panel on state education issues.… Continue reading →

Evaluators call for five-year renewal of EBR school accreditation, but highlight many problem areas

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Educational consultant George Griffin presents  a AdvancED Accreditation Team report which reaccredits the EBR School System during a special meeting of the School Board. Most of the AdvancED Accreditation Team members are seated in the front row at the meeting.

A 17-member team of outside evaluators ended a three-day visit, including stops at 20 schools, by announcing its verdict Wednesday to a special meeting of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board: The school system deserves to retain its accreditation for five more years. “I’m sure there’s a number of you who wanted me to just get… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge School Board to select new superintendent April 2

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.

The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board plans to select a new superintendent on April 2 as part of an accelerated timeline approved Wednesday afternoon. The timeline is based on the recommendations of a special committee, formed just days earlier, of three board members who met Monday. The members are Connie Bernard, Barbara… Continue reading →

Team of 17 visit East Baton Rouge to decide whether to reaccredit school district; tour 20 schools

A team of educators is putting the East Baton Rouge Parish school system under the microscope this week during a visit that will determine whether the system retains its hard-won districtwide accreditation earned in 2009. The 17-member team from AdvancED arrived Sunday night and is wrapping up its work at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at a… Continue reading →

Anxiety on Louisiana college campuses over possible budget cuts

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- LSU students make their way in front of the Middleton Library on campus Monday.

Across the state, people are bracing for potentially devastating cuts to college and university funding that could change higher education in Louisiana for years to come. The talk of deep — many have been throwing around figures around 40 to 60 percent — cuts to campuses has prompted responses from faculty, students, alumni and administrators, though most… Continue reading →

Teacher evaluations may undergo changes

State Superintendent of Education John White

Principals would have new latitude to evaluate public school teachers under a plan that will be considered Tuesday by a special panel grappling with the thorny topic. Under current rules, half of the annual job checks are based on the growth of student achievement — which is highly controversial — and half on observations by… Continue reading →

Annexations are shrinking proposed city of St. George, but the school district is a different story

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Supporters of the anti-City of St. George movement, Better Together, applaud after the council voted 9-3 to annex the Mall of Louisiana, Our Lady of the Lake Hospital and Baton Rouge General into the city of Baton Rouge.

Since it was unveiled 17 months ago, the proposed city of St. George has steadily shrunk. Big commercial properties such as the Mall of Louisiana and L’Auberge Casino have been annexed one by one into the city of Baton Rouge. In the process, the tax base for the would-be city has deteriorated to the point where opponents… Continue reading →

East Baton Rouge School Board launches superintendent search

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- BR Magnet High students walk in front of the school.

The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board agreed Thursday to launch its search to replace Bernard Taylor, whose three-year contract as superintendent ends June 30. The vote to launch the search was 8-0, and advertisements will be placed immediately in The Advocate. The ads are being modeled on one used more than a decade ago in… Continue reading →

Jindal renews criticism of Common Core exams

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- John White (right), State Superintendent and Chas Roemer (left), president of BESE, address the board Tuesday, July 29, 2014, during a BESE meeting in the Claiborne Building.

Gov. Bobby Jindal on Wednesday accused the state’s top school board and the Louisiana Department of Education of ignoring the pleas of parents who want their children to skip upcoming Common Core tests. Chas Roemer, president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, disputed the governor’s comments and said “nothing could be further… Continue reading →

Governor delays special election for BESE seat

Gov. Bobby Jindal has delayed a special election to fill a seat on Louisiana’s top school board after Secretary of State Tom Schedler said it would save the state $428,400. The contest is for the District 4 seat on the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which sets policies for about 720,000 public school students statewide.… Continue reading →

Jindal’s ‘opt out’ of Common Core plan represents changed thinking

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Gov. Bobby Jindal announces his administration's move to pull out of Common Core during a press conference in June 2014 at the Louisiana State Capitol.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, who on Friday proposed letting students opt out of Common Core tests, took the opposite stance in 2012 when his office said a similar plan would damage Louisiana’s public school accountability system. The governor’s latest view differs from those expressed by his administration three years ago on a bill by state… Continue reading →

Students in final preparations for Common Core exams; program to face many hurdles ahead

After months of battles in the Legislature, courts and school boards, Louisiana public school students are in final preparations for the initial round of tests on Common Core. About 300,000 students in grades three through eight are set to take the exams March 16-20, something of a watershed event after bitter arguments for the past… Continue reading →

Battle over Redemptorist High now focusing on what to do next with the campus

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Redemptorist High and Junior High are scheduled to close in May 2015.

Built in the late 1950s, Redemptorist High School’s north Baton Rouge campus has been just that — a school — for its entire existence. After the last students leave on the final day of classes May 21, it’s not clear what the campus will be used for next. Metro Councilwoman Ronnie Williams, who represents the area, said… Continue reading →