Education

What's happening with Louisiana's schools, colleges, universities, and ongoing education reform.

Common Core — the new set of national education standards in math and English language arts — will take effect in most states next year. This move toward a single set of standards has been embraced by a bipartisan crowd of politicians and educators largely because of what the Common Core standards are replacing: a mess.

In years past, the education landscape was a discord of state standards. A fourth grader in Arkansas could have appeared proficient in reading by his state's standards — but, by the standards of another state, say Massachusetts, not even close.

The interest rate on government-backed student loans is going to jump from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent Monday.

Republicans, Democrats and the Obama administration could not agree on a plan to keep it from happening. Lawmakers say a deal is still possible after the July 4 recess. But if they don't agree on a plan soon, 7 million students expected to take out new Stafford loans could be stuck with a much bigger bill when they start paying the money back.

It has been one of the more heated debates in Washington this year.

Out-of-school suspensions are on the rise across the country, a troubling statistic when you consider being suspended just once ups a student's chances of dropping out entirely. That's why many districts are hoping to keep kids in school by trying an alternative to suspension.

The state's top school board has approved $2 million in financing to pay for students to take individual classes elsewhere if their public school is underperforming or doesn't offer a course they want.

The money for the "Course Choice" program will be drawn from a state education trust fund stemming from an old oil drilling settlement, including $1 million that had been slated for local districts.

State Supt. John White wants to reallocate $2 million from a state education trust fund to pilot the “Course Choice” program. The program will let students take individual classes elsewhere if their public school is underperforming or doesn’t offer the course they want. The state’s top school board will consider the alternative funding request Tuesday.

Clairborne Elementary gifted resource teacher Chris Wilson (front right) plays special education resource teacher Annie Fox in the chess tournament as Audubon Elementary computer lab teacher Contessa Hunt (back left) and Melsrose Elementary fourth grade t
Amy Jeffries / WRKF

About 200 teachers from 42 schools in the East Baton Rouge Parish district have signed up for workshops this summer to learn how to start chess clubs and use the game in their classrooms. The first batch of teachers capped off their training with a mini tournament Thursday.


Career Diploma Given Short Shrift

Jun 5, 2013
Welding in action at Louisiana School for the Agricultural Sciences.
Sue Lincoln

Louisiana’s Department of Education is hosting a series of regional meetings this month to talk about simplifying the state’s high school diploma options.

The department is looking to put more emphasis on career training, after lawmakers’, employers’, and teachers’ repeated complaints that the state is too focused on sending kids on to college, instead of preparing them for real-world jobs.


The Louisiana Supreme Court has asked a Baton Rouge district judge to review his decision to throw out Gov. Bobby Jindal's revamp of teacher tenure and salary laws – called Act 1.

Judge Michael Caldwell had ruled that the legislation was unconstitutional because it bundled together too many items spanning Louisiana's education laws.

Attempts to slow down parts of a public education overhaul have been quashed.

The Senate Education Committee opted Thursday not to take action on a bill that would have put off changes to the school grading system that take ACT results into account.

Rep. Kenny Havard, who authored the bill, said using the college entrance exam in performance score calculations will penalize schools where career-bound students opt not to prepare for or take the test. Schools graded a “C” or worse by the state can lose students and resources.

State Superintendent John White wants to scrape the Department of Education's administrative budget to pay for public school students to take individual courses from private providers.

The Course Choice program had been included in the formula that supports public schools. But the same state Supreme Court ruling that shuttled the planned financing for vouchers, said those funds couldn't go to the new classes either.

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