Teacher and public school evaluations face renewed scrutiny

A Tulane professor asked to review key parts of Louisiana’s public school accountability system said that, in some ways, the state is one of the national leaders. “Overall, Louisiana is probably above average in a lot of respects,” said Douglas N. Harris, an associate professor of economics. But Harris said there are areas that need … Continue reading →

Video: LSU Chancellor F. King Alexander reflects on his first year

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander, photographed in front of the school's Memorial Tower. He's been on the job for a year now.

If there’s one central theme to F. King Alexander’s first year as LSU president and chancellor, it has been unification. He’s moving to reunite a fragmented LSU system. He’s working with leaders of other systems to develop legislative strategy. The Board of Supervisors has supported him, as has Gov. Bobby Jindal. He’s also winning over some … Continue reading →

New EBR School Board plan muddies electoral, legal picture

The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board’s controversial last-minute shift from an 11-member board to one with 9 members has scrambled the election map less than four weeks before qualifying for elections this fall and prompted an almost certain legal fight. The new plan, adopted Thursday, hurts most directly two politicians: Jerry Arbour, who’s currently on the … Continue reading →

Ethics complaints target White, BESE members

A longtime critic of state Superintendent of Education John White said Friday she and others plan to file an ethics complaint next week naming White and four members of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. White disputed the comments. Lee Barrios, a former school teacher in St. Tammany Parish who often testifies at BESE … Continue reading →

EBR School Board agrees to downsize to 9 members

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  East Baton Rouge Parish School Board members, from left, Connie Bernard, Jerry Arbour and Jill Dyason participate in the meeting scheduled Thursday for members to vote on redistricting plans that would reduce its size.

Shrugging off threats of litigation, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board on Thursday narrowly approved a new map that reduces from 11 to nine the number of representatives serving on the School Board starting Jan. 1. The winning plan, known as Freeman 9 Member 7, one of six introduced, was approved in a 6-5 vote after … Continue reading →

Special ed overhaul called 'monumental'

Louisiana’s education establishment faces a huge challenge implementing a controversial new law to make it easier for high school students to earn a high school diploma, superintendents said Thursday. “The bottom line is it is going to be a very difficult process,” said Doris Voitier, superintendent of the St. Bernard Parish school system and president … Continue reading →

SU faculty spar with Mason over college finances

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Southern University Faculty Senate President Thomas Miller, right, announces the Southern University Faculty Senate's plans to return Southern to 'fiscal solvency and academic excellence' Thursday in front of the John B. Cade Memorial Library. Miller is an associate professor of French and German. Listening, from left to right,  are Irma Cobb, professor of Spanish and Chair of Foreign Languages, Don Hernandez, an assistant professor of History, and Faculty Senate vice-president Albert Samuels, professor and Chair of SU'svDept. of Criminal Justice and Political Science.

The leaders of Southern University’s Faculty Senate say system President Ron Mason is to blame for the cash-strapped school’s financial woes and other problems. The group went public with its complaints on campus Thursday in front of the library, raising questions over Mason’s latest proposal to merge the president and campus chancellor jobs, which he says will … Continue reading →

Nichols, Roemer disagree on Common Core lawyer request

Kristy Nichols

Sparking new disagreements, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said Thursday she needs more information on the state school board’s request to hire special legal counsel in the battle over Common Core. In a letter to state Superintendent of Education John White and Chas Roemer, president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, … Continue reading →

Change of plans adds parking lot at Central High

At a hastily called meeting, the Central School Board agreed Monday to spend $200,000 to convert a practice field at the rear of Central High School into a parking lot and have the work done in time for the teenagers’ return from summer break Aug. 7. “If we get a break in the weather, we’ll get … Continue reading →

GOP against shrinking EBR school board

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- School Board vice president Tarvald Smith, speaks during discussion of a motion to authorize the Superintendent to contract for professional services to complete a separate audit by the Board to address the findings in the Louisiana Department  of Education's EBR schools audit during a meeting of the East Baton Rouge School Board Thursday. during a meeting of the East Baton Rouge School Board Thursday. At left is Board member Evelyn Ware-Jackson.

East Baton Rouge Parish’s chapter of the Republican Party has come out against a proposal to reduce the number of members serving on the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board from 11 to a smaller number. The local GOP’s executive committee voted 13-1 to urge the School Board to maintain its current 11 members and “not … Continue reading →

Louisiana student loan debt averages $22,789

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Students walk past Thomas D. Boyd Hall, home to the Bursar's Office on LSU's campus, Thursday, July 17, 2014.

About a third of what Jessica Potts makes each month as a teacher goes toward paying off her student loans. The LSU graduate still has about $40,000 to pay off — at the rate of $800 a month. “I want the American dream, too ... the house, the car, everything, but at this time … Continue reading →

Debate still raging over accuracy of EBR graduation records

Figuring out whether students are staying in school and earning enough credits to graduate from Baton Rouge public high schools has provoked two audits and a soon-to-be-released report from the Legislative Auditor’s Office. So far, though, the answer as to whether problems exist is proving elusive because key records that would answer such questions remain incomplete … Continue reading →

EBR School Board approves budget, but will revisit salaries

After much debate, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board on Thursday approved a $438 million general operating budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year but plans to return on July 24 to reconsider employee salary schedules. Thursday’s vote comes weeks later than normal. The board historically has approved this budget before the start of each fiscal … Continue reading →

Gov. Jindal orders repair of Southern campus road

Photo provided by Southern University Media Relations -- Gov. Bobby Jindal, today, ordered the Department of Transportation and Development to begin emergency repairs on a damaged road at  intersection E.C. Harrison Drive, that crosses Roosevelt Steptoe Avenue on Southern Universityâs campus. ORG XMIT: ii8pox5ibkUntaorvMQB

A main road on Southern University’s Baton Rouge campus that has been impassable for nearly a month since it collapsed could be repaired and reopened by the start of the fall semester. Gov. Bobby Jindal has ordered the state Department of Transportation and Development to fix E.C. Harrison Road, which gave way when an aging culvert crumbled. … Continue reading →

Jindal, White meeting yields no Common Core progress

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 on Wednesday at the Louisiana State Capitol.

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s much-anticipated meeting with state Superintendent of Education John White failed to produce any breakthrough Thursday in the heated battle over Common Core. Jindal, who did not speak with reporters afterward, repeated his view that White and the state Department of Education have to follow proper procedures in exam plans for the upcoming school … Continue reading →

Group decries plans to cut the size of the EBR School Board

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Tanya Nyman with the parent group, One Community, One School District, shares a presentation and expresses concerns about the EBR School BoardÕs vote, scheduled July 24, to redistrict itself, possibly reducing itself from 11 members to something smaller on Wednesday at the Main Library.

A parents group in Baton Rouge laid out a lengthy case Wednesday night against reducing the size of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, saying the plan lacks research to justify it and would give extra advantage to wealthier candidates and the special interests who support them. Meanwhile, a lawyer for the state NAACP told … Continue reading →

Dalton Elementary getting new charter management

Updated at 6:38 p.m. – Dalton Elementary in Baton Rouge is changing hands after the charter management company selected by the state to run the school began collapsing after the abrupt resignation of its CEO, who admitted he lied on his résumé and failed to mention a prior prison sentence. Instead, Dalton is being handed over to a … Continue reading →

BESE leaders offer new Common Core test plan

From left, BESE members Chas Roemer, Jim Garvey and Holly Boffy.

On the eve of a key meeting over Common Core, three leaders of Louisiana’s top school board said Wednesday they would conditionally go along with Gov. Bobby Jindal’s request for the state to come up with new tests for the upcoming school year. “As time is running short, we ask that you take this as a … Continue reading →

BR group seeks ‘capable’ candidates for School Board race

Calling themselves BR 10, a newly formed group of 10 professionals in Baton Rouge announced Tuesday they will be seeking capable, reform-minded people over the next month to run in the upcoming East Baton Rouge School Parish Board elections. “We’re not targeting any particular districts. We’re not trying to endorse anyone. We think if we get enough … Continue reading →

LSU-Law Center merger on track for January

Advocate staff file photo by Richard Alan Hannon -- The LSU Law Center

LSU is forging ahead with plans to reunite its law school and main campus, and leaders say the process is on track to be completed by Jan. 1. LSU’s Board of Supervisors approved the plan at its March meeting, and the Law Center this month submitted plans for the realignment to the American Bar Association, which … Continue reading →

Three BESE leaders propose Common Core plan

Advocate file photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) President Chas Roemer testifies in front of the Senate Committee on Education in this May 2013 file photo.

Three leaders of the state’s top school board Thursday proposed a onetime use of controversial Common Core test questions for the 2014-15 school year, as well as traditional Louisiana exam questions, in a bid to strike a compromise with Gov. Bobby Jindal. The proposal was spelled out in a four-page letter to Jindal, who has said he … Continue reading →

Feds wary of La. special ed law

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --  The Louisiana State Capitol

A new state law that will allow special education students a different route to a high school diploma may violate federal laws and could jeopardize Louisiana’s public school aid, U.S. Department of Education officials have told state Superintendent of Education John White. The measure, House Bill 1015, breezed through the Legislature and was … Continue reading →

Jindal sides with unions on Common Core fight

Advocate file photo by BILL FEIG -- La. Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Just two years ago, Gov. Bobby Jindal was aligned with business, education and other groups in his push to overhaul public schools. He made teacher unions one of the focal points of his criticism. Now Jindal is generally aligned with those same teacher unions that he repeatedly blasted in 2012 and is on the opposite side … Continue reading →

Coalition sets sights on shaping board

Cajun Industries founder Lane Grigsby is readying for yet another political assault on the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board. Grigsby contributed tens of thousands of dollars in 2010 as part of a campaign to oust School Board incumbents. Despite withering attacks, three of the five targeted board members managed to win re-election. The result was a … Continue reading →

SU settles lawsuit over accessibility complaints

Advocate file photo by Richard Alan Hannon -- Southern University was sued by George Eames Jr. in September of 2009 for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act for allegedly failing to make all facilities wheelchair accessible. Wheelchair accessible seating is located at each corner of A.W. Mumford Stadium.

Southern University settled a lawsuit over the Baton Rouge campus’ failure to accommodate disabled students, agreeing to make several upgrades that are expected to cost the cash-strapped college millions over the next five years. The Southern University System Board of Supervisors at its most recent meeting agreed to the lawsuit settlement, along with the university’s … Continue reading →

Jindal aide restricts White's authority

Advocate Photo by MARK BALLARD -- State Superintendent of Education John White.

In a sign of rising tensions over the dispute about Common Core, the Jindal administration has told state Superintendent of Education John White that his agency will be subject to more stringent contract rules. Under the new rules, the state Department of Education will have to win approval from state finance officials for any contracts exceeding … Continue reading →

New principals named to 18 schools in Baton Rouge

Advocate file photo by Bill Feig -- The halls of Woodlawn High School.

Almost a quarter of the schools in the East Baton Rouge Parish school system have new principals as they approach the start of the 2014-15 school year in August. Meanwhile, four more schools, including Belaire and Woodlawn high schools, are still looking for new principals. Superintendent Bernard Taylor informed the School Board two … Continue reading →

Southern board names interim chancellor

Provided photo -- Flandus McClinton Jr.

A longtime Southern University finance administrator will serve as the campus’s interim chancellor until the system’s governing board decides how to fill the permanent post. Flandus McClinton Jr., who has served as vice chancellor for finance and administration since 1998, takes the helm this week but will also retain his vice chancellor duties, serving in a temporary … Continue reading →

Special ed revamp sparks debate

Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed a bill that backers say will offer special education students a vital new route to a high school diploma. “It is a good thing that we are providing this pathway, and it is not a worthless or a symbolic diploma,” said state Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, one of the chief … Continue reading →