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.
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.
Louisiana’s Supreme Court has ruled that money reserved for public schools can’t be used to pay for private school tuition under the state constitution.
The 6-1 decision, handed down Tuesday, undermines the school voucher program that was a keystone of the education overhaul pushed through the legislature by Gov. Jindal last year.
In a written statement following the ruling, Jindal said the program is, “alive and well.” Nearly 5,000 students are enrolled at private schools through the voucher program. Roughly 8,000 students have been offered vouchers for next year.
A state judge has thrown out rules passed last session tying teacher tenure and pay to classroom performance. Monday's decision is a turnaround from the same judge’s previous ruling.
In December, Judge Michael Caldwell threw out parts of what’s been called the “Teacher Tenure Act,” – parts that didn’t directly address teacher tenure, but made rules for school boards, visiting teachers, superintendents and principals.
Journalist Sarah Carr spent a year chronicling the lives of a skeptical teenager, a fresh-faced teacher, and a veteran principal in three separate charter schools in New Orleans for her new book, “Hope Against Hope.”
Some of the same players who orchestrated the makeover of public education in the Crescent City after Hurricane Katrina are trying to do the same thing in Baton Rouge, without the prompting of a natural disaster.
Supporters of the movement hold up charter schools as the salvation of American education. Critics say the overhaul will lead to its ruination. What Carr found was a lot of gray.
Compass -- the evaluation system being rolled out in public schools across the state -- has raised the stakes. Teachers who don’t score highly effective under the new measures face the loss of salary and tenure. Ineffective teachers could lose their jobs.
The state Department of Education says so far attrition has remained steady, but the East Baton Rouge Parish School District is still wary of turnover. Beanka Williams, the coordinator of support programs for EBR, says the district is having job fairs monthly to make sure schools are fully staffed.
Williams has also been fielding questions from anxious teachers since last summer when they were first asked to set goals for what their students would learn this year.
State Superintendent of Education John White is advocating refinements to “Compass” – the program created by 2010 legislation to reform how public school teachers are evaluated. The changes stem from teacher input.