Oct 222014
 
School Performance Scores for Uptown campuses, based on date released by the Louisiana Department of Education. (UptownMessenger.com)

School Performance Scores for Uptown campuses, based on date released by the Louisiana Department of Education. (UptownMessenger.com)

While Lusher Charter School remained the highest-performing school in Uptown New Orleans last year, two language-immersion schools surged forward to narrow the gap, according to the latest School Performance Scores released by the state this week.

Three other Central City elementary schools also showed improvement, growing from their previous grade of a ‘D’ in 2013 to a ‘C’ this year, the reports show.

But three other schools — each of which had been singled out for growth in previous years — tumbled precipitously in 2014, losing a letter grade from previous year’s performance. Continue reading »

Oct 212014
 

jewel bush

Last week, an eighth grader at a ReNew Schools charter in New Orleans East suffered second-degree burns from having scalding water thrown on him by another student. He required skin grafts for the wounds to his legs. This wasn’t the first time this student had been attacked on campus. A few months earlier, a different student slammed his head into the concrete.  He reported that incident too.

I applaud this student for being brave enough to come forward. It takes guts to speak out against bullying.

Anyone who caught the RTA, or the “Rita” as we called it, to school in New Orleans in the 1990s or 2000s has a wild story or two to tell about extreme bullying. Continue reading »

Oct 142014
 

Keith Bartlett (via lfno.org)

Keith Bartlett (via lfno.org)

When Keith Bartlett was chosen to lead Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans late in the summer of 2013, the very future of French-immersion charter school was in question.

Its governing board had just been replaced through a process in essence mandated by the state government, and several of the new members had already resigned. Its two founding school leaders had publicly parted ways with the school, the temporary school leader was under increasing public scrutiny — as were the school’s finances. Disagreements over the causes of the problems sharply divided parents, and monthly board meetings were balancing acts between simmering tensions and open acrimony.

Reflecting the atmosphere of uncertainty, Bartlett was appointed school CEO last year with “interim” very publicly affixed to his title, and board members promised another search for a permanent successor. Against that background, then, the same board’s decision Monday night to make Bartlett the permanent CEO with a more-than-20 percent salary increase — and applause from parents who had been some of the school’s sharpest critics — was all the more striking. Continue reading »

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Oct 082014
 

The former Duke Morgan spa on Magazine Street, photographed in September 2013. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The former Duke Morgan spa on Magazine Street, photographed in September 2013. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The owners of the French Quarter’s Sylvain easily continued their path toward a new restaurant on Magazine Street last week, when the City Council voted to approve alcohol sales in the building. Continue reading »

Sep 212014
 
From left, Cameron Messinides, Madeleine LeCesne, Ashley Gong, First Lady Michelle Obama, Julia Falkner and Weston Clark in the Blue Room of the White House, Thursday, Sept. 18. (submitted photo)

From left, Cameron Messinides, Madeleine LeCesne, Ashley Gong, First Lady Michelle Obama, Julia Falkner and Weston Clark in the Blue Room of the White House, Thursday, Sept. 18. (submitted photo)

A Lusher High School senior has been chosen out of 13,000 students across the country as a 2014 National Student Poet by First Lady Michelle Obama, and joined her at the White House this week for a poetry reading. Continue reading »

Sep 192014
 
(via Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc)

(via Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc)

Loyola Medieval Studies and the Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc are co-sponsoring the 5th Annual Salon de Jeanne d’Arc, a full day conference of free lectures and theater performances about Joan of Arc and the medieval times she lived in. The conference will feature Nancy Goldstone, author of “The Maid and The Queen,” and performances by Porkchop Productions and Loyola Theater. Continue reading »

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Sep 172014
 

lyceeThe Orleans Parish School Board approved the recommendation of the its property committee to allow the Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans French-curriculum charter school buy the former Alfred C. Priestley school campus in west Carrollton on Tuesday night, despite protests from an activist group and legal claims by a private developer. Continue reading »

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Sep 162014
 
Dr. Andre Perry delivers the keynote address at the Rising Tide conference Saturday, Sept. 13. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Dr. Andre Perry delivers the keynote address at the Rising Tide conference Saturday, Sept. 13. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Standardized test scores may be rising in the city’s public schools, but those gains on paper do not translate into any meaningful improvements in the lives of the city’s poorest students, said former New Orleans education official and activist Dr. Andre Perry. Challenging school reformers’ beliefs that a wholesale restructuring of the education system will create a better society, Perry added that all social conditions that plague New Orleans’ poor and African-American neighborhoods still persist even after 10 years of school reforms.

The best first step the city can take to real improvements for the African-American community, Perry said, is to begin searching for a way to reconcile with the thousands of teachers who were wrongfully fired after Hurricane Katrina. Continue reading »

Sep 122014
 

mast

Andre Perry (via drandreperry.com)

Andre Perry (via drandreperry.com)

The annual Rising Tide “Conference on the Future of New Orleans” will host educator Dr. Andre Perry as its keynote speaker, with panel discussions on the lost histories of New Orleans’ Palmer Park, community organizing, government waste and finding religion in the city, as well as “tech school” sessions on using social media in publishing. Continue reading »

Sep 112014
 
The front door of the Priestley school building in west Carrollton. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The front door of the Priestley school building in west Carrollton. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The Orleans Parish School Board property committee recommended that Lycee Francais be approved to purchase the former Priestley campus Thursday, sending the proposal to the full school board next week for what could be final approval. Continue reading »

Sep 092014
 
Retired Lt. Gen. Russell Honore (center) and other advocates discuss contamination in the soil at the former Booker T. Washington site in front of what remains of the former school. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Retired Lt. Gen. Russell Honore (center) and other advocates discuss contamination in the soil at the former Booker T. Washington site in front of what remains of the former school. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

When Lt. Gen. Russell Honore led 20,000 federal troops into the city of New Orleans for search-and-rescue missions in the aftermath of the collapse of the federal levees following Hurricane Katrina, he instructed his soldiers not to let the contaminated water touch them.

Nine years later, Honore said, the risk of pollution to New Orleanians is coming not from the failures of the federal government, but from decisions made by leaders right here in the city and state — such as the plan to rebuild Booker T. Washington High School in Central City on top of heavily contaminated soil at the old Clio Street dump. State documents show that in some locations, cancer-causing compounds are present in levels more than 100 times what is considered acceptable.

“As we worked nine years ago to help save this city, we’re going to work now to help save this city from itself,” Honore said. “Because you know what? It’s not the White House doing this. It’s not President Bush doing this. It’s the leaders in New Orleans doing this, and it’s people we did not put in the office — the RSD.”

Many alumni of Booker T. Washington, however, believe that the Recovery School District’s plan for treating the contamination is sufficient, that Honore’s concerns are an unnecessary excess of caution, and that it is time to move the long-delayed construction of a state-of-the-art school forward. Continue reading »

Aug 302014
 
Retired Gen. Russell Honore speaks at the GreenARMY Katrina commemoration at Xavier University. (Zach Brien for UptownMessenger.com)

Retired Gen. Russell Honore speaks at the GreenARMY Katrina commemoration at Xavier University. (Zach Brien for UptownMessenger.com)

As New Orleans continues to recover from the devastation that followed Hurricane Katrina nine years ago, the city should pass a law preventing any schools or daycare centers from being built on top of toxic soil — including the proposed rebuilding of the Booker T. Washington High School over the old Silver City dump site in Central City, retired Lt. Gen. Russell Honore and local allies said Saturday morning.

“We’re the oldest city in this part of the country, and we ought to be the first to make a stand,” Honore said. “We’re not going to put a school on a dump.” Continue reading »

Aug 162014
 
The front door of the Priestley school building in west Carrollton. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The front door of the Priestley school building in west Carrollton. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

lyceeA group of Carrollton neighborhood leaders expressed support for the Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans charter school’s plan to reopen the long-shuttered Priestley campus, but many hope the school can do more to benefit all the children of the neighborhood, they said this week. Continue reading »