Sunday, December 20, 2009

Race To The Top

Federal rules for the new Race To The Top program have been released. It will benefit the community to review for understanding this information.

You may review the federal documentation at

State guidelines and other info on this program may be viewed at:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cal Thomas Advocates Exodus From Public Schools

In a column by Cal Thomas that appeared in The Times on October 29, 2009, Thomas makes the following statement.

"If conservatives and Republicans support an exodus from public schools as a strategic goal, they will strike at the heart of liberalism, while simultaneously liberating minorities trapped in failed government schools. To free them and teach them about America and its promise of hope will produce everything they are looking for but can't find in politics. It will also pay political dividends as children and their parents see which party and persuasion cares about them enough to bring real change to their lives."

Oh, how benevolent master Cal is today. He wants to help "them" free "them" and teach "them" about America.

No thanks master Cal. I'm going to fight for a strong public education system that will not lead "them" to depend on the kindness of conservatives and Republicans.

How distasteful! How condescending! How downright insulting to "them" and to the very ideals this nation has come to stand for.

You better wake up folks. If we continue to buy into the myth of how terrible our public schools have become, and flock to voucher and charters as the savior, then we are getting on another boat destined for a reverse voyage in history.

Black leaders, where are you when we (them) need you the most?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Local Governance is Next Frontier in Education Reform

A close look at and reform of local school governance must be the next frontier in education reform.

More specifically, I refer to school boards.

These boards have been around for years, usually populated by local citizens. Their major purpose has been to oversee school administration. Most have an overarching range of authority granted by state legislatures.

However, it is becoming more clear that education requires more than a part-time investment by a body that usually does not possess the breadth of talent and experience required to manage complex organizations and issues.

We are no longer just talking about school lunch menus, uniforms, or local holidays etc..

The current state of public education in America has become critically important to our ability to lift individual standards of living, and to our competitive position on a global basis.

We must now rethink the entire structure of governance. Are school boards even the right model for the 21st century?

What kind of qualifications and experiences should form the minimums required to serve? Should this be an elective or appointive body? Should it have some minimal paid full time positions? Term limits? Who evaluates the performance of the school board? What sanctions are available for non-performance?

It is clear local communities must step up its appreciation for school governance overall and begin to engage in a serious debate about needed changes.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

ACT Scores for Louisiana-2009

A national tool for evaluating college readiness is the ACT score. The results for the 2009 graduating class are now in, and being reported by ACT at

On a national level, some 23% of all students tested met the readiness benchmark in all four subjects, as compared with 15% in Louisiana.

Louisiana Composite Scores:

Asian American/Pacific Islander...22.3
Caucasian American/White...........21.5
National Average ..................21.1
Other/no response........................20.2
Louisiana Average................20.1
American Indian/Alaska Native..19.4
African American..........................17.3

It is very important as parents and community leaders that we stay aware of these scoring trends, and that proper steps are taken to improve our results.

In addition to the focus on awarding scholarships, we should devote resources to making sure our students are prepared for this test.

We must consider that Louisiana's Tuition Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) requires a minimum score of 20 on the ACT.

As college costs continue to increase, scholarship money of this nature can not and should not be left on the table.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Advocacy Role Expanding ( More Commentary)

As we move forward to engage the 2009-2010 school year and beyond, this site will begin to provide more direct commentary regarding our state and local school situation. We have been quite passive as Louisiana passed its new "Career Diploma" legislation and locally as the Caddo school board and the new charter community openly spar. No more.

Our original purpose was to mainly serve as a resource. However, we detect a clear need for commentary focused on helping with conversations and debates about the critical area of education.

Comments and opposing views are not only welcome but encouraged.

So help me as we attempt to heat things up in the future.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A New Economy (Join the Conversation)

Agenda for a New Economy, by David C. Korten is a must read. While this site maintains a focus on the need for a good education, we have also touched on things like income and wealth.

Mr. Korten makes the case that our current economic system is troubled and in fact should be replaced. "Our economic system has failed in every dimension: financial, environmental, and social. And the current financial collapse provides an incontestable demonstration that is has failed even on its own terms. He believes we have misdirected trillions of dollars. He goes on to say "The more intelligent course is to acknowledge the failure and to set about redesigning our economic system from the bottom up to align with the realities and opportunities of the twenty-first century."

A key point the book makes is the difference between what the author calls "Phantom Wealth" vs. "Real Wealth."For example Phantom Wealth includes " created by accounting entries or the inflation of asset bubbles unrelated to the creation of anything of real value or utility."

On the other hand Real Wealth may be characterized by things that you can't put a price on. For example "...things of intrinsic artistic, spiritual, or utilitarian value essential to maintaining the various forms of living wealth. "They include healthful food, fertile land, pure water, clean air, caring relationships and loving parents, education, health care, fulfilling opportunities for service, and time for meditation and spiritual reflection."

The current economic crisis has no doubt touched every American in some personal way. A good informed conversation on the reasons why we are here and how to avoid a repeat of this in the future seems very appropriate.

Mr. Korten provides extensive references for those seeking additional information and perspective on this issue. For instance the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies and the American Independent Business Alliance Others are also listed in the book.

I like this work. Korten makes sense and it is recommended that you take a look at this issue as well. Good reading!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

President Barack Obama on Education

On February 24, 2009, President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress. Below are some of his comments on education:
"In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity-it is a prerequisite."
"Right now, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma."
"We have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation."
"It is our responsibility as lawmakers and as educators to make this system work. But is is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it. So tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But what ever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma."
"These education policies will open the doors of opportunity for our children. But it is up to us to ensure they walk through them. In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a parent-for a mother or father who will attend those parent/teacher conferences, or help with homework, or turn off the TV, put away the video games, read to their child. I speak to you not just as a President, but as a father, when I say that responsibility for our children's education must begin at home."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Low Performing School Characteristics

The Louisiana Legislature requires reporting on low performing schools that are not making acceptable yearly progress. Currently, the report highlights schools with a School Performance Score of below 60 and growing at a rate of less than 2 points. The report is the Louisiana MFP Accountability Report. The most recent version is dated May, 2008.

The complete report is available at

I am quoting below highlights of findings as reported in the Executive Summary.

  • Schools with the "Academically Unacceptable label" have higher percentages of student poverty, student minorities, and teacher minorities.
  • Schools with higher K-12 student attendance rates and higher percentages of certificated teachers have higher SPS.
  • Schools with higher percentages of minority and impoverished students have lower SPS.
  • Schools with the "Academically Unacceptable label" have higher expenditures and lower teacher salaries compared to the average for all schools.
  • Schools with higher percentages of minority teachers and higher teacher turnover have lower SPS.
  • Schools with the "Academically Unacceptable" label have a higher percentage of teachers with a Master's degree, a larger pupil-teacher ratio and slightly less years of teacher experience when compared to the average for all schools.

Certainly this information must be considered in context. And the findings should add to the public understanding of educational issues discussed in the local media. For example, Teacher Quality was recently the subject of several news stories.

This information should also be helpful to PTA, alumni and other civic organizations with a stake in this community.

Education Financial Information for Louisiana

Many conversations regarding school performance center around resources. The question of financial equality (or rather financial inequality) is inescapable. I am therefore creating a link to the Louisiana Division of Education Finance for easy a quick reference. The link is as follows:

Using this link, you can quickly get into critical financial reports and other financial information.

Governor's Education Focus

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was in Shreveport on February 11, 2009 in part to promote the need for new education legislation. There appear to be three major areas that have so far been identified. They include:
  • A discipline agenda
  • Value added testing
  • Removal of barriers that limit or restrict faith-based organizations relationships with charter schools.

According to news reports, the discipline agenda aims to give teachers more options in controlling the classroom as well as turning up the heat on parents who fail to take responsibility for student behavior.

This site has previously suggested some type of legislative approach should be considered in the area of parental accountability. However, we also believe in balance and funding. Balance would include provisions for mental health services and adequate funding to provide these services.

It does not take much imagination or research to know that much of the student anti-social behavior has its roots in the home and that the home needs, in many many cases, mental health services.

In any event, this overall legislative package should be closely monitored by concerned community members, to make certain that thoughtful and constructive ideas are incorporated in any final product.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Data Availability

The state has made a final decision with respect to the low performing schools in the Caddo school district. Two schools, Linear Middle and Linwood Middle with be under state control effective July 1, 2009.

The remaining 8 Caddo schools identified as low performing are to be operated under local control but with tight supervision from the state.

This community should obviously rally around all Caddo schools with the idea of making them all successful.

We may, as a community, be called upon to make some difficult and controversial decisions regarding resource allocation etc., as we move forward. I am therefore creating two links below that will allow for easy access to critical data.

1. The District Composite Report is produced each year and covers all Caddo schools. Extensive information is provided about overall district operations as well as performance information on a school level basis. That link is:

2. The state also issues an annual report on each school. There is a Principal's Report Card and a Parent's Report Card. The following link will bring you to that historical information:

Friday, January 16, 2009

Council for A Better Louisiana (CABL)

This organization has an awful lot to offer to anyone interested in improving our state. This site should be a regular resource for factual information to aid in decision making. They can be reached at

I am also creating a link directly to their 2009 Louisiana Fact Book. This is excellent work and should be a valuable resource tool.

Link to fact book:

Monday, January 12, 2009

Louisiana Graduation Rates for 2007

On January 8, 2009 the Louisiana Department of Education released its cohort graduation rates for 2007. Indicated below are the rankings for our area. You may view the complete release together with attachments at

1. Caddo Parish Magnet High School------------96.4%
-State Goal for 2016----------------------------80%
2. C.E. Byrd-------------------------------------76.9%
3. Captain Shreve-------------------------------75.6%
4. Northwood-----------------------------------71.2%
-State Average---------------------------------65.9%
5. Southwood------------------------------------65.6%
-Caddo District Average-------------------------59.4%
6. Huntington-------------------------------------57.4%
8. North Caddo-----------------------------------54.4%
9. Woodlawn-------------------------------------47.7%
10. Green Oaks----------------------------------44.2%
11. Fair Park-------------------------------------41.6%

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