Oct 30, 2013

Educators, Organizations, and School Districts Called on to Lead the Creation of High-Quality Educational Options for Louisiana Families

BATON ROUGE, La.— The Department of Education today released Louisiana’s Call to Action, an invitation for educators, non-profit organizations, and Louisiana school districts to propose educational solutions with the goal of ensuring that every student in Louisiana has access to a school that will prepare them for success after high school. While the state has fewer failing schools and more A and B schools than ever before, much work remains; success varies from district to district and from region to region. Options are limited for many students. Two out of every nine students in Louisiana currently attends schools with letter grades of D or F. To address this challenge, the Call to Action will provide the opportunities and support that individuals, non-profit organizations, and local school districts need to create new high-quality options for Louisiana’s students.

“While we are making progress, too many students continue to have no option but to attend a school that isn’t meeting their needs. This sense of urgency is at the heart of the Call to Action; we need the best leaders, educators and organizations to make a commitment to Louisiana students and provide effective, innovative options across the state,” said Superintendent John White.

Educators, organizations, and local school districts can choose to meet this call through a variety of opportunities for example:

  • Becoming a school leader. Strong leadership is the key to every successful school. Leadership candidates will have the opportunity to select the leadership development experience that best meets their needs and apply for financial support from the Department. During the 2013-2014 school-year the Department and BESE awarded leadership development grants through Believe and Succeed to invest in the development of twelve individual educator driven new school proposals. These leaders chose to enroll in apprenticeships at high-performing schools, traditional graduate programs, and alternative leadership development programs. 
  • Developing a proposal to launch a new charter school. Charter schools provide families with the opportunity to select the school model that best fits the needs of their children, and overall students in Louisiana charters consistently outperform their peers. Currently, Louisiana has diverse charter options including college preparatory schools, arts-based schools, and career and technical education schools. By launching a new school that meets the specific needs of Louisiana students, an individual, district, or organization can provide additional high-quality options for families.
  • Partnering with the state to transform struggling schools and create new options for students.  Louisiana school districts know the needs of their communities and understand the obstacles that students in their struggling schools must overcome.   District leaders use their local knowledge to develop resourceful and innovative strategies to ensure that all students – including students from struggling schools – have pathways to success.  Over the past year, six districts have partnered with the state to develop new leaders and launch new schools that meet their local needs.  This year, Louisiana’s Call to Action calls on districts to take advantage of an expanded menu of opportunities to partner with the state in pursuit of these goals.  Districts may receive financial and operational support that will bolster current school turnaround strategies and create alternative pathways for students in struggling schools to experience success.

“The Believe and Succeed funds will allow us to intensify and expand our existing leadership development programs in the districts that need it the most.  We will be able to focus on our struggling schools and provide them with the resources they need to improve the educational attainment of their students.” said Dr. Marjorie Taylor, Executive Director, The Orchard Foundation.

Louisiana’s Call to Action is one step in a four-step process that will result in the consideration by BESE of new school proposals and grant applications in August 2014.  Next month, the Louisiana Department of Education will release an online toolbox with additional resources to provide educators with critical information and resources necessary to focus on a particular problem and identify the solution they wish to pursue to meet the Call. Following the release of the toolbox, the Louisiana Department of Education will initiate an application process for proposals, including charter proposals and Believe and Succeed proposals for new options and leadership training.  Proposals will be due in March 2014.

# # # # # #