Tenure on Trial
11:56 am
Mon December 17, 2012

Judge to Rule in Teacher Tenure Suit

Teachers protest Act 1 at the capitol April 4, 2012.
Credit Ashley Westerman / WRKF

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Last spring at the capitol, thousands of public school teachers rallied against the bill that would tie their pay and tenure to performance through an evaluation system, which was rolled out at the start of this school year.

A state judge says he will rule Tuesday on whether Act 1 was passed in violation of Louisiana’s constitution.

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Turnaround Schools
2:27 pm
Fri December 14, 2012

School Turnaround: How Did George Hall Do It?

George Hall kindergarteners learn writing basics in Samantha Laubenthal’s class.
Credit Dan Carsen / Southern Education Desk

Before the Mobile County school system reconstituted George Hall in 2004, less than half its students were on grade level. Discipline problems spilled out into the neighborhood. Its reputation had plummeted to the level of its test scores.

But as state Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice puts it, “It’s remarkable to think where they were eight years ago and where they are today. The demographics of the students have not changed at all, but their academic achievement has soared.”

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Turnaround Schools
3:32 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

School Turnaround in Alabama: From Disaster To National Leader

George Hall relies on school-wide lesson plans and behavior policies, not to mention constant striving for improvement.
Credit Dan Carsen / Southern Education Desk

The positive reinforcement that is a mainstay of classes at Mobile, Alabama’s George Hall Elementary mirrors the praise coming in from around the country. At least 95 percent of students here consistently score at or above grade level in math and reading. Educators from other districts come to observe and learn. It’s been a national Blue Ribbon school, a state Torchbearer School, and according to tech giant Intel, it has the best elementary math instruction in the United States.

But it wasn’t always like this. Before 2004, its chronic “low-performing” status, behavior problems, and failure to teach the most basic skills were the norm.

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Turnaround Schools
2:57 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

Mississippi School Leaps from 'F' to 'B' in One Year

Reading scores at Heidelberg have skyrocketed. Principal Lowanda Tyler-Jones watches third graders interact with their teacher during a reading lesson.
Credit Annie Gilbertson / Southern Education Desk

Failing schools can flounder for years. But occasionally a school will buck the trend and turn things around. Heidelberg Elementary in Clarksdale, Mississippi was once a failing magnet school.  In a year’s time, it’s made one of the biggest test score gains in the state.

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Turnaround Schools
4:37 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Tennessee Elementary School Overcomes Low Test Scores and Violence

Inskip Principal Elisa Luna with third grade student Sarah Lawrence. “It’s a good school,” Lawrence says. “It’s gonna take me to good places –- like good colleges, and good places to work.”
Credit Christine Jessel / Southern Education Desk

In Knoxville, Tennessee, one school climbed from the state’s failing list to a top ten list in three years. The Southern Education Desk reports, as a new principal, Elisa Luna had inherited a violent inner-city school.

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Baton Rouge Schools
4:23 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

How to Improve North BR Schools Debated

A lot of different ideas are being tried out to improve schools in north Baton Rouge. The civic group Better Baton Rouge brought together some of the major players Monday night to discuss the path to educational excellence.

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Turnaround Schools
2:40 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

In Georgia, Turnaround High School Looks to Sustain Progress

Josey High School principal Ronald Wiggins helps students in Shannon Moore’s chemistry class.
Credit Maura Walz / Southern Education Desk

Three years ago, a group of the lowest-performing schools in Georgia began receiving millions of dollars in federal money to fund an ambitious attempt to improve dramatically. As those schools enter their final school year receiving that money, the Southern Education Desk reports on one school’s progress.

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Education Overhaul
4:24 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

BESE Moves Ahead with 'Course Choice'

The state school board has authorized 45 organizations to offer courses to public school students starting next year. Most of the courses would be taught fully or partially online.

BESE made its decision even though a judge ruled Friday that paying for the program through the public school funding formula as planned is unconstitutional. Gov. Bobby Jindal said he will appeal that ruling, which was also blow to his private school voucher program.

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Vouchers on Trial
6:57 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

Judge: Vouchers Can't Be Paid for in Formula for Public School Support

Gov. Bobby Jindal plans to appeal a court ruling against his school voucher program. Teachers unions and local school boards filed suit to stop them.

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Vouchers on Trial
4:14 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

Voucher Ruling is In

State Judge Tim Kelley declared today that the way Louisiana lawmakers created the statewide private school voucher program was constitutional, but the way it was funded was not.

Kelley said the case had nothing to do with whether or not public funds can be used to support vouchers, but he said the state couldn’t do so through the public school funding formula known as the MFP.

The district court ruling is a victory for the teacher unions and school boards that want to stop the voucher program and others that would funnel money away from public schools.

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