WWL>Topics>>8-12-14 3:10pm Angela: on public education

8-12-14 3:10pm Angela: on public education

Aug 12, 2014|

Angela talks with John Ayers of Tulane University about whether the New Orleans public school system is improving.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

I wanna thank again our our marvelous parent who come any time we called the talk about personal issues and they're just. The dynamite and how lucky for their kids. How lucky for us is a community. To have memories in baskets. Well we're gonna shift a little bit. Public education in New Orleans took a major turn post-Katrina. With the state taking over the schools. With the birth of charter schools. And with the mission of so many to get off the failure track and on to a new day. The college institute for public education initiatives. Has released its eighth annual review. Of Orleans public schools and ready to spend the next hour talking about the accomplishments. And the challenges. With John Ayers executive director of the callon institute all of this of course at Tulane University. And with Deb Vaughn who is director of research for this marvelous report. And I -- sad before seasonings -- caught. Me. That out of all the horror. Of Katrina and there was much of it it what it did do is it cleared the slate forest on education. Almost -- we could start again. And that has. Would you agree proven to be a good thing. Yeah I think it's very rare you get -- Greenfield site in public education we get to think anew and and and think what might be. On the best way to organize schools and the state. Took an 80% of the schools and in the remaining schools stayed with the Orleans -- school board and they were kind of the well working schools and the number of -- to be called magnets now called selective admission charged. And death but the state I think has done a pretty solid two reinventing. The school structure in a way. That is getting us higher quality results that we previously and that's the bottom line results. Exactly I mean we've made academic gains seven years in a row of course there's more work to do. -- the implementation of the common core which has become a big stage issues. In the focus on getting kids to mastery not just a basic is really are our next challenge but. We feel like. The -- the reorganization the schools has been a positive thing. It's been complicated for parents to understand for sure. But were making some strides on that side to to him enrollment system that's pretty good in. And it has worked well for many parents to get their first second or third option when they're choosing schools. But no one has really tried to do new world insist on and a -- people come from all across the country to study we what we are the lab. -- I guess you could say that I mean hey it's. It's partly because of the Greenfield as I was saying but also because we had some very inventive public. Servants like Paul ballas and Paul pastor can in John White cane and come through here and did some very interest in things. I've never seen a system that arms so. Seriously honors the autonomy of schools and that's what what's important about charters that are public schools. But their run autonomously. So that they get the opportunity to serve the learners in front of them rather than serving bureaucracy -- them. And it's that focus on the learners in front of them and now I'm thinking of parents -- it is customers. That I think gets you a lot more responsive. Schools that we had under the old traditional structure. I knew that the old traditional structure wasn't functioning when the FBI moved in. To the building and I thought -- winners and that of course was pre Katrina. But the the good news is that it is a new day and let's talk about this report what is the biggest change. In this report from last year. Well I think. The most interesting thing that happened this year it doesn't sound uninteresting but to policy people it's it's quite. And an unusual on development. -- this is at the Orleans parish school board and the State's recovery school district formalize their collaborative relationship. To address some citywide concerns that we had been complaining about for years that we didn't serve special Ed. Students well we weren't really coordinated on truancy. And you know we're -- your true -- sixth seventh eighth grade did years you're likely to become. A drop out. Are we weren't really coordinating Israel's because it -- than building. The school facilities master plan of building the new buildings which by the way lovely. -- are important. So what they did was they came together on something called the cooperative endeavor agreement which outlines commitments on both sides. To make sure that we serve these vulnerable students we work better on things like the facilities. And this kind of pushes to the back the notion that we need to at least immediately become one system. We lose a lot of people are very confused by the fact that we have two systems working simultaneously in New Orleans. But now that we have this cooperative endeavor agreement we do think that arms everybody's better served. So that the cooperative endeavor. Agreement means that there's consistency with handling true once and there's consistency. With handling. Special Agilent. Correct and a whole raft of other things were -- in and -- in the cooperative endeavor agreement and these include things unlike -- Students with with half mental health issues and indeed students have been abused and and neglected. Arm but it also caught -- ties that we have a centralized offer. To do expulsions you know and expulsion is something is very. Tough on -- student and his family can lead to. Drop out and lead to have very hard harsh consequences. Well now we have a hearing office. They here's all expulsions. And and gives parents and families. Due process and that so it's an independent office. It's -- actually by the ours. By the opiates being the Orleans parish school board but that but both systems. Adhere to it. And that's -- really good. Thing I mean because the -- you know we have a all choice district and all tourist district we have charter schools were completely independent and autonomous run their own shadows. But we've learned that we need some centralize things for equity and fairness and we're kind of building those back slowly. In this cooperative endeavor agreement is part. Well and that's very goodness. We are going to take a break we're gonna come back and we're gonna talk to on. To both of these lovely people about. Academic progress right after this on Angela on WW. Will we are back talking out with John Ayers and Deb Vaughn. Four with a college institute. Which recently came out with its report on public education and world and this is their -- reports that were kind of looking at. Where were going in as everyone knows we took a dramatic turn post-Katrina. You know luckily in -- luckily that although we have the two systems we have perhaps a better system than we had prior to the storm. I'd like to ask about. How we are advancing. Progressing. Academically. -- -- -- -- So we've definitely made progress dramatic gains actually since Katrina. And that's on a measure of a percentage of students scoring basic and about. But. Last year we had a we're kind of stayed constant. To and we didn't grow we remain the same writing in the state as well. But that's one year. I think we'll have challenges as we as Johnson earlier as we strive for mastery. Mastery is really a measure of performance that says this student is ready for the next grade. And so it is really really important that we focus on Austrian and kicked in it was interesting in reading the report last night I was saying I -- definition of mastery. So when you talk about basic. Could you define net. They think is approaching a basic is. Is almost ready to the next grade where mastery is is prepared for the next grade. Says students are able to be promoted to the next grade when they score basic. But they're really. Most ready for the next grade when their mastery. And -- like 19%. Mastery. That's right in it in new violence in 24% and stay 2.4 percent of students to stay. I think it's important to remember. That. Week we took a system that was the second worst Wednesday. And is now in the middle on Wednesday. And so in this state that is low performing and the nationals. When you look at that name national comparisons. Not very good. Long ago. So. I wouldn't suggest we should. Com be patting ourselves completely and back we should be challenging ourselves and that's one of the reasons John White are excellent state superintendent is talking about this mastery well. So that we kind of raise our sites and don't think basic is good enough but somebody once said we went from a disaster. Two mediocre. And that's a -- And I do think that you do have to pause and pat yourself on the back down again to get people ready for the next well if you like we're going into phase two. People have accepted this new structure. And it's the way we're gonna work for. But phase two is gonna demand a lot of us to work at a higher level into the common core state standards despite the governor's. Fiasco. And turn to push away from them and tough standards tennis hard stuff and we had that constitute a poll recently basically parents were day. To have the test scores flatten out go down for years so that weak hand. You know hit national standards in and compete markets competing get jobs here. Is that people are actually willing to take a little down on the test scores to get two dollars. You know. Within several shows and common corn I don't wanna get in the debate you know about it but what is. But as educators what is the benefit do you think that this is the route to raise up every one. More rigorous standards. Are what. Business is demanding look we haven't changed our standards in the state eleven years. And the world has changed so much in eleven years what is it what is. But they say we double the amount of knowledge we have every eighteen months. Now. And young people. To have higher demands on their skill sets. Both at college in didn't career I mean he used to be that you could forklift truck or in tanner you earn a factory. On -- And not have to work computers now everybody has to work computers even if you're driving a forklift there's a computer on the forklift. You know so I think it's really important that. We not. It's kind of separate ourselves out of this that we don't need to hit these tires and we do. We're going to be left behind. We do as a nation correct and we didn't need this as a state the when John White was here last -- said we are moving forward with common core. That issue with the tests I mean think that there in court today. It's right yes so various things will happen but ultimately because I kept saying schools starting. So you gotta go with something and I -- I can't imagine the frustration of teachers. Either way. Not what are we doing. Yeah exactly and and you know -- Louisiana teachers I think seventy find them worked on these standards it's not as if these are coming down. You know being that the state initiative. Is that they're like they're coming down from the evil feds this is. This is a state initiative to to what was happening actually is. This State's word dumbing down the standards to meet No Child Left Behind them are no child -- -- in 2001. Well it basically said the states could set set up there and test well -- begin to make ridiculously easy tests and many states. And so. People in the states who who knew this was a problem said look we've got to get to higher standards and we have to organize this you know my whole career we've talked about. How it's important. To test because it's the best measure we have but wouldn't it be great if we were actually testing the right thing. If we're testing something that really mattered. And if you look at these standards and compare them. To the ones that we've been working and they are significantly better and I think teachers are starting to embrace them. I do think there's too much testing and I do think we have to listen to parents and they complain. About the amount of testing that goes on and I think we should think about that but. But as a whole I do think the standards are important. I think there has been a mentality. We teach to the test. And is that right. You know and there's plenty of evidence that we do that. And we -- see in New Orleans just to you know be perfectly honest received -- a number of schools that. Are. Skill and drill. Factories you know kids are just forced to grind through. Rote learning. You know in order to move these test scores now. Even in the best of schools people do and probably should drop everything for -- few weeks before the test to get kids ready and someone. But he shouldn't be driving every day's instruction that's a sad drudgery that kids would have to go through it if the schools to -- that so. We do think that basic is not enough. We need to commit to achieving -- there's actually considerable research that shows. That when you don't teach to the test when you really teach rich literature and get kids involved in higher level learning they do better on the tests. So it's it's it's a funny thing that that educators because of the pressure that the tests create sometimes good sometimes bad. Will teach inappropriately. And I think we do have to watch out that you make a good. Stay with us everyone we're gonna continue a very interesting conversation. With the people from the -- institute right after this. Will we are back with John Ayers who's the executive director of the colony institute at Tulane university and Deb Vaughn who is director of -- search -- talking about. Their eighth annual. Our report. On -- the -- public schools and we're talking about. The fact that we have made great inroads in the last eight years what your I think you're saying is that which -- flattened out. But now we're going to surge ahead again. What. What is it. That we need to do. A -- as a community in because it's more than just schools. To uplift ourselves academically. They're winning at each other look. I know that's a tough question and may be unfair because it's very complex issue that is I mean. You know the the that the home is very important part. Students being ready to learn. And good charters and 91% of our students -- insurers. Try to line parents with the goals of the school. So that might mean that they create a contract or expectations. Ends. Homework and quiet. And getting good healthy me all which -- use our schools serve of course because we have I've poverty. And I do think that. The schools themselves need to do a better job of engaging parents. On this if I order criticize one of the things about this very assertive reform. Is it's been focused on schools. Kind of attempting to do everything you know and sometimes they hold the parents at arms links from the work and I hear from even dyed in the wool reformers who service that. The schools have to learn. To engage the community and engaged parents more effectively the other thing is we have a great cultural heritage to protect and -- And you know poor as the academic results were in the previous school structure. Actually we're great teaching music. And art was also highly valued in this system and that's part of who we are in loans. So I'm part of a group that's trying to figure out how we can. Get more music and art into schools and and maybe soften some of those harsh cultures that we are talking about that result from. High stakes testing. -- because kids need to dance and they need to. Move and they need to play play. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- You know we we awfully. Quickly move to abstractions. And too hard hard work with our students. In we need to give them love and joy and beauty as well. Let me ask you about the charter system. I was up in Maine a couple of years ago and they were I think that the governor of -- the signing off on. And with great debate. One charter school I -- -- in an enormous discussion. And I remember thinking gee -- look what we're loaded with. For the most part you feel that it has been positive. I am delighted I think that. Charters are and it very interesting and new way to organize schools -- Com. Suggest that the -- learners -- are better served by. Administrators and teachers who are free to serve that exact set of learners as opposed to. A bureaucratic structure they often start without a union and we only have two schools in New Orleans with the union. And so you don't have the complications of union agreements procedures and so on which makes the ability to. Change on a dime improve what you do much easier. It's interesting I have worked in a number of cities where charters are very controversial as you suggest they weren't in Maine. And if it becomes kind of a contest where people are. Throwing mud at each other years your district's schools are good -- charter schools and good you know line and people get very defensive. In a funny way in New Orleans because we don't have anything but chargers I think we have six we have just six traditionally -- schools. There's a degree to which the question becomes is it a good school. And nobody is saying charters are some magic bullet or some perfect thing that will fix everything but in Chicago. I can tell you what I used to work. You know there's charter advocates say charter -- fix everything this just isn't true and we know that down here. So in a way New Orleans has a more sophisticated in -- wants to take on the charter. And we know that it's not gonna fix everything we know that a good school fix a lot you know. So yeah it's it's a it's an interesting policy debate but it's often. Not productive. OK well let's go to our caller I appreciate you pick a -- it's about. Brad you were on holding on and I appreciate it. Thank you -- -- an important discussion. You know. The say one consequence. That we can't keep in mind is they cleaned Lee came up as a result of the -- Firing. Of 7000. Certified educators under the state -- rules. The proper education. Background. In their support steps. And they're hiring teen will all displaced for Katrina. I think is -- trauma and it's a trauma that the city is still -- older and part of. Lack of public support because. All need to be honest here people in reality they're a lot of folks who are opposed to -- Charters even if they are have some good things -- And I like your guests to respond because. As state judges rule that these firings were on job. And that there's going to be a big settlement that common. And it could cost anywhere from one to two billion dollar will make the fire fighter settlement in small. On it here for yeah. Thank you very much for the call. Credits you make an important point and we do we did not raise. This until you agree we should have. Yes 7000. And teachers were let go. On this his way and the city was empty. A need for. A lot of talent to be brought in but you are correct. On the appellate court did rule in a very well reasoned piece. And at least the teachers. Had jobs under the previous contract were not given proper notice. In order to apply for the jets as they came forward and the system and it's hugely unfair I mean imagine losing your home. And then losing your job and not getting notice of the jobs open. So I think the court on his hands. Moved in the right direction towards a settlement. I'm not sure that the cost Brad is going to be quite as dramatic as you suggest but I do think there's a lot of resentment over that and it's legitimate. I also though hope. That when we reached that settlement and they put special master in there to help people who were hurt. That we can have a truth and reconciliation. Moment in New Orleans actually begin to move. Forward. And and and kind of join hands that. That week in we can come together needed to improve the schools and to -- should you know teachers who were unfairly. Treated. Now terrorists an awful lot of schools. In New Orleans that are called charters. But are all that newfangled they look pretty traditional and they hired a significant number. Educators who are in the system more so. It's it's. It's interesting to see you hear people like Mary Laurie another great principals who prefer the charter power. But hired back significant numbers of traditional teachers. And -- restored them in the -- in New Orleans parish. School system under this new structure. What's the time line for the you know it's it both sides appealed. The and it's going before the Supreme Court. My feeling was. That what the court came down with was very new warrants very Smart. And and and nicely -- I have a funny feeling that's the State Supreme Court will agree. That. That both systems to support job in the crisis in doing this notice and so there will be. Money paid to two teachers who were part of these mass. Released. And probably that is I think I agree with Brad it's justify. Thank you again Brett -- will -- take another break we'll be right back. We're back talking with. -- institute executive director John Ayers. And director for search -- -- about their most recent report on. New Orleans public education. Let -- start this. Doorways of schools don't have the superintendent what what is the issue about not. Getting. Well. Lou we have two political problems in the education space we have this fiasco going on around -- common core the state level. And then locally the search for a permanent superintendent has stalled for the second year in a room. Com the Orleans parish school board is an elected seven member board and they are -- Mostly armed adults stuff. Not much to do with kids. Date changed leadership in January and there was some encouraging signs that they. Would be able to find a superintendent but they continued scrap and and and they've actually their own search consultant said they're driving people away. I'm you know the way this is structured. Army Angel is that is that. Schools can go back to the old district but only of their own volition they have to bow to go back to school on the board. And and fourteen schools. Were eligible to go back they had the test scores in the success. To go back to -- field districts and exactly zero. So that's wanted to stay with -- ST that's correct. Now it's the -- you know there's a lot of complications we made it easier for the return to happens a lot of people want the return to happen. But return isn't gonna happen until at the very top there's more unity. And on hand I think the unity will come when there's a strong superintendent. Sometimes boards need to be led by the administrators you know not the other way around. But their own their own guy who did the search said you know you guys fighting in and treating each other badly. Me and charging each other with corruption and all that you're driving away talent you're not gonna get someone who want to drop in on that. Yeah and stand Smith. The chief financial officer has played this role in an interim place for two years he's done a very good job. One thing that's really good to know is the only spears school boards finances are in good shape. That was not the case at the time the storm there was a lot of lost money. So I'll win when they get a leader they've got a good financial situation. They've actually chartered. A number of interest in schools in the last several years so. They should be advertising the fact that they have provided some new diversity to into the market. That the market the school market needs. So I mean I think -- Orleans parish school board is not. Out of this game but they've got to get their political act together I think to get a superintendent. In our final moments. Are we spending enough on kids know we are not. The effort is inadequate in this state is in most states in my opinion I mean I think public education. Is the most important public spending we do and I think. Louisiana. Should be arms taxing itself and spending more than as a strong anti tax state. The county institute did a poll earlier this year. And asked if people would tax. Would continue -- Milledge. It's that we currently have in place. To improve. The and in do maintenance on the buildings that -- building. In I think it was 72% of people said yes they would before. We also asked if they would. Allow themselves to be taxed to do more early childhood education and 65%. Said yes I would do that that's encouraging and that is surge and that was suggests as I was saying earlier a certain kind of buying in. Or consensus that this. Is a pretty good aren't improving school system if people will pay money to it they don't like it. We're gonna get John Ayers and Deb -- back I thank you both very very much. Again -- institute wonderful addition to our community thank you both -- Q Angela we'll be right back. Thank you so much for joining us have a great evening and join us again tomorrow.