May 212016
 
The Lusher Charter School board was surrounded by teachers and others to hear about the union issue on April 16. A similar crowd filled the board's meeting room on Saturday, May 21. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

The Lusher Charter School board was surrounded by teachers and others to hear about the union issue on April 16. A similar crowd filled the board’s meeting room on Saturday, May 21. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

The division that Lusher board members described leading up to this week’s vote on a teacher’s union exploded into public view on Saturday afternoon in a series of heated exchanges about the school’s diversity, its contract with Tulane University, its mounting legal costs and, of course, teacher morale. Continue reading »

May 192016
 
A Lycee Francais banner hangs from the roof at the former Priestley campus in July 2015. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

A Lycee Francais banner hangs from the roof at the former Priestley campus in July 2015. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans charter school named the Blitch Knevel architectural firm to lead the master planning of its expansion to the Priestley campus in Carrollton, perhaps the most significant step forward on the major renovation project since the purchase of the building a year ago. Continue reading »

May 142016
 

By Ann Welsh

The Lusher Charter School community is special. Teachers, students, parents, and the administration work every day to promote “Learning the Lusher Way” and to exemplify Lusher’s number one rule: Be Kind. The level of engagement from the entire Lusher community is unsurpassed. Only with this consistent effort from all members of the Lusher community can our students achieve the success they’ve enjoyed as a result of their experiences at Lusher. Lusher students have discovered new approaches to environmental remediation after oil spills, have introduced the President of the United States at a celebration of National Poetry Month, and have performed at Carnegie Hall. A Lusher student has even had a planet named after her by NASA! Continue reading »

May 122016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Will Mayor Landrieu’s vocal support of a federal takeover at the Orleans Parish Prison be the final encouragement Judge Lance Africk needs to pull the trigger on receivership? Gusman filed his response to the Justice Department’s complaint yesterday which basically said he had not been given enough time or resources to significantly address the many issues at hand.

Under receivership, the federal government will appoint a seasoned correctional official to administer violence and mismanagement issues. Gusman would continue to serve as Sheriff but his hands would basically be tied. Continue reading »

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May 102016
 

By Chunlin Leonhard

Mr. Robbie Evans, the vice president of the board that governs the Choice Foundation, a three-school charter network in New Orleans, recently urged the Lusher Charter School teachers to vote against their fellow teachers’ efforts to unionize, describing the union as “an impediment to charter schools’ progress.” (The Advocate, Monday, May 9, 2016 p. 1B) He also commented about “union-created deadlock where only ineffective and possibly abusive teachers would benefit,” pointing to the infamous “rubber rooms” associated with New York public schools –“temporary reassignment centers where union-represented teachers accused of misconduct or incompetency have been sent while they await rulings from independent arbitrators.” (Id.)

Mr. Evans’ comments are not only outdated but also completely inapplicable to the unionization efforts at Lusher. Continue reading »

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Apr 262016
 
Students from Sylvanie Williams College Prep marching band perform in the 2016 Martin Luther King Day parade. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Students from Sylvanie Williams College Prep marching band perform in the 2016 Martin Luther King Day parade. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Lawrence Crocker and Sylvanie Williams — the two Uptown elementary schools in the New Orleans College Prep charter network — will add tuition-based seats to their preschool programs in the fall, part of a broader long-term strategy to create a completely new early-learning center in New Orleans. Continue reading »

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Apr 232016
 
Lusher Charter School board chair Blaine LeCesne speaks in favor of recognizing a teachers' union at the school. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Lusher Charter School board chair Blaine LeCesne speaks in favor of recognizing a teachers’ union at the school. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The Lusher Charter School governing board voted 6-5 on Saturday morning against recognizing a petition for collective bargaining by the newly-formed United Teachers of Lusher, likely triggering a schoolwide election on the question in the coming weeks. Continue reading »

Apr 212016
 
OPSB Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. (left) speaks on a panel with Thelma French, Deidre Johnson-Burel, Jamar McKneely and Ben Kleban on Tuesday night. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

OPSB Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. (left) speaks on a panel with Thelma French, Deidre Johnson-Burel, Jamar McKneely and Ben Kleban on Tuesday night. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The rapidly evolving plan to return all schools in New Orleans to local control by 2018 — effectively ending the 10-year reign of the state’s Recovery School District — was hailed as a vitally important milestone in the rebuilding of the city’s school system, school leaders and education activists said Tuesday night at a forum on the the process of re-unifying the school district hosted by the 100 Black Men of Metro New Orleans.

Their comments were greeted, however, with questions ranging from the skeptical to almost hostile from the audience, underscoring the degree to which many residents remain unconvinced that 10 years of publicly celebrated reforms have made any substantive differences in their neighborhoods. Continue reading »

Apr 212016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Charter schools are big business in New Orleans. They basically operate in their own world and are answerable not to the voters but only to their individual boards, each of which is like a mini OPSB.

Charter school organizations can hire whomever they want, pay whatever salaries they want, and purchase supplies and equipment from vendors of their own choosing. As the more successful charter school organizations get the opportunity to start up (or take over) additional schools, their fiefdom grows. Continue reading »

Apr 202016
 
Informational pamphlets passed out by members of the United Teachers of Lusher union on Tuesday night at a meeting with parents. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Informational pamphlets passed out by members of the United Teachers of Lusher union on Tuesday night at a meeting with parents. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

A meeting called by Lusher teachers on Tuesday evening to explain why they see a need to organize a union turned into the first public airing of sharply conflicting views over the issue. Some parents voiced support for the teachers’ right to make the decision themselves, others expressed concern for what the change will mean for the culture of the school, and the conversation dovetailed with national debates about the role of organized labor in public education and the past and future of the New Orleans school system. Continue reading »

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Apr 192016
 
Children dance during a performance at Lusher Charter School's morning meeting in December 2011. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

Children dance during a performance at Lusher Charter School’s morning meeting in December 2011. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

By Jana K. Lipman

I am writing to support Lusher teachers, and I want to share my thoughts as a labor historian, a teacher, a former union member, and a parent of two children at Lusher.

Many friends and fellow parents have said they are normally pro-union or progressive, but that teachers, and particularly Lusher teachers, do not need a union.  This is for Lusher teachers to decide themselves.  Parents can support or not support unionization efforts (clearly, I am also taking a side), but ultimately this is a decision for the teachers to make. Continue reading »

Apr 182016
 

Ursuline Academy students will celebrate the arts at their second annual Ursuline Arts Festival this Wednesday, April 20 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. The student-led festival will offer audiences the opportunity to stroll through the Academy’s 11.5-acre Uptown campus to experience diverse expressions of music, visual arts and performing arts. The festival is free and open to the public.

(via Ursuline Academy of New Orleans)

(via Ursuline Academy of New Orleans)

Continue reading »

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Apr 162016
 
The Lusher Charter School governing board listens to comments from a crowd of nearly 100 people on Saturday morning. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The Lusher Charter School governing board listens to comments from a crowd of nearly 100 people on Saturday morning. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The vast majority of the crowd of nearly 100 people packed into the Lusher Charter School board meeting on Saturday bore some sort of insignia. Some wore white ‘UTL’ buttons with the logo of the United Teachers of Lusher; others carried handmade signs with slogans like “No Union;” and most on both sides had some variation of the Lusher logo on T-shirts in the school’s signature deep blue.

Many of them — again, on both sides — also had questions, mostly when they will get to air their views on whether and how the school leadership should recognize efforts to form a teachers’ union. The board gave them little in the way of answers on Saturday morning, but promised not to make a decision before hearing from them in the very near future. Continue reading »