The Board of Zoning Adjustments on Monday approved a long-debated parking plan for a rebuilt Walter L. Cohen College Prep high school campus. The campus will have more parking spots than the School Board originally proposed, but the plan falls short of the amount lobbied for by the school’s neighbors in the Delachaise area. The high school operated by the New Orleans College Prep charter school network is set to redeveloped into a 103,000-square-foot three-story building with 35 classrooms that could accommodate about 600 students and 75 faculty and staff members. The school currently on the site will be demolished. Such a campus, according to the city’s Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance, needs 145 off-street parking spaces.
As protesters nationwide storm the symbols of the Confederacy and institutional racism, a movement to rename the revered Lusher Charter School has received a renewed boost. This time, however, the administration has said it will consider the idea of removing the name of staunch segregationist Robert Mills Lusher. A petition on Change.org garnered more than 2,600 signatures by Wednesday evening. Commentary on the petition describes the racist legacy of the school’s namesake, who advocated using public education to promote white supremacy while serving as the state’s superintendent of education after the Civil War. The petition does not suggest an alternative name for Lusher, a K-12 charter that consistently ranks among the city’s highest performing, other than opting for one that “honors the diverse experiences, hopes and dreams of the children who they purport to care for and educate every day.”
Figuring out what to do after high school is hard. Good news: there’s a new option for New Orleans public high school graduates. LAUNCH is a free bridge year program that connects young people with brighter futures. Students in LAUNCH:
College: earn transferable college credits
Career: train and build skills for a high paying career
Life: develop a strong and flexible five-year plan with the support of a dedicated coach
… And receive technology tools and transportation
… All for free! Now more than ever, recent high school graduates may be wondering “what’s next?” For many, the time isn’t right for traditional college or the workforce.
Claudine Howard is the mother of Destiny Davis, who just graduated as Salutatorian from Eleanor McMain Secondary School this spring. Ms. Howard reflects on her dreams for her daughter and the ways in which COVID-19 has impacted Destiny’s last months of high school. I dream of so much for my daughter, Destiny. I dream of her being a doctor, which is what she wants to be. I dream of her having a good life and also giving back.
The carpool line at the Child Development Program on Claiborne Avenue looked a bit different Saturday (May 16). Children’s heads popped up through sunroofs as teachers greeted the line of cars with cheers, waves, balloons and gift bags. Preschoolers were being treated to a drive-thru graduation. Of the 54 total students, ages 6 weeks through 4 years old, at the Uptown center, seven were graduating 4-year-olds. After being told by several parents that the sudden shelter-in-place orders brought on confusion to many of the children, particularly the older students, CDP staff members determined that they needed to do something to lift the children’s spirits.
Class of 2020, Part 1: High schools turn to virtual resources, social media and creativity to honor graduates
The final months and weeks leading up to high school graduation tend to hold anticipated end-of-year senior traditions, celebrations and countdowns, but this semester is different. The class of 2020 won’t be able to celebrate their accomplishments with hugs from faculty and classmates this month; they won’t be able to graduate in a venue surrounded by cheers from family and friends; and they won’t be able to walk proudly across a stage to receive a handshake and a diploma. When Gov. John Bel Edwards announced school closures for the remainder of the semester in mid-March, students were faced with the challenge of adjusting to a new normal of distant learning. Now, with the state-wide stay-at-home order extended through May 15, graduating seniors are confronted with another major unprecedented change: a socially distanced graduation celebration. “Once you start your freshman year of high school, all you can think about is walking across that stage your senior year to make yourself and family proud,” said Rayon Pratt, a graduating senior at Landry-Walker high school.
The coronavirus pandemic has necessitated a dramatic shift in public education that could finally force New Orleans leaders to address the myriad inequities that have robbed our most vulnerable children of reaching their full potential. It will take outside-the-box forward thinkers to build a post-COVID educational system that focuses on what will become the new normal — personalized learning beyond the traditional school classroom. Our elected and charter officials as well as parents and civic and business leaders must come together with a clear vision to meet these expanded education goals. School systems without fund reserves could be armed with fewer financial resources as budgets take a hit from projected virus-related reductions in sales and ad valorem taxes, which currently make up a large portion of education funding. During this pandemic one group of New Orleans learners have faced the greatest challenges — the 35,000-plus students from disadvantaged households who make up 83% of charter school students in Orleans Parish.
From Tulane University
The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences has awarded the National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice, or REACH, at Tulane University a $100,000 contract to collect data from approximately 150,000 school websites across the country to see how the nation’s education system is responding to the coronavirus pandemic. The project, which will track traditional public schools, charter schools and private schools, aims to quickly answer questions that are critical for understanding how students are learning when school buildings are closed. Key questions include: how many schools are providing any kind of instructional support; which are delivering online instruction; what resources are they offering to students and how do students stay in contact with teachers? “This data will also help answer important questions about equity in the school system, showing how responses differ according to characteristics like spending levels, student demographics, internet access, and if there are differences based on whether it is a private, charter or traditional public school,” said REACH National Director Douglas N. Harris, Schlieder Foundation Chair in Public Education and chair of economics at Tulane University School of Liberal Arts. REACH will work in cooperation with Nicholas Mattei, assistant professor of computer science at Tulane University School of Science and Engineering, to create a computer program that will collect data from every school and district website in the country.
via the City of New Orleans
The Mayor’s Neighborhood Engagement Office, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Youth and Families, would like to invite you to participate in Junior Civic Leadership Academy (JCLA). This initiative from Mayor LaToya Cantrell is an engaging 8-week program that will provide youth with an in-depth look at city government. JCLA will meet virtually every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. starting June 6 through August 1 (excluding July 4). Enrollment opens today (April 27), and applications are available online. The program includes hands-on demonstrations and presentations that give participants an insider’s view of how the City of New Orleans operates.
Orleans Parish School Board member Ben Kleban will step down from his District 5 post on June 15, and the board is looking for someone to finish out his term. Kleban announced his resignation in March, saying in an email that he and his wife and three children plan to move to Washington State to be closer to their extended family. Before joining the board in 2017, Kleban founded and led the charter school network New Orleans College Prep, which operates Hoffman Early Learning Center, Lawrence D. Crocker College Prep elementary school and Walter L. Cohen College Prep high school. The Orleans Parish School Board will appoint someone to finish his unexpired term, which ends Dec. 31.
From Lusher Charter School
In true collaborative spirit, Lusher Charter School engineering teacher Matthew Owen and his wife, Laura, are working with Tulane Medical School and local hospitals to create much-needed personal protective equipment, or PPE, for New Orleans hospital employees to protect them from COVID-19. The Owens are working with medical students and other engineers and students on designs for PPE. Laura Owen, a support services teacher at Lusher, spearheaded the effort with medical students who contacted hospitals about their needs. When they discovered that the teachers had access to Lusher’s 3D printers, the med students planned a Zoom call with the couple and developed a design to print. With permission from the school, the Owens brought three 3D printers and supplies home to begin the project.