O.P.E.N’s 5 Education Issues to Watch in 2014

Deirdre Johnson Burel, executive director of Orleans Public Education Network, talks education with BrassyBrown. Deidre is dedicated to improving education— especially for children of color. She is a visionary who works tirelessly in the office and the community, and we are happy to have her as our guest blogger on education this month.  You may want to keep this post handy during the calendar and academic year.

Five Educational Issues/Policies to Watch in 2014

image001By Deirdre Johnson Burel, Guest Blogger

Public education’s most significant headline in 2013 was Common Core. Other notable issues in public education that year included: 1) the state’s scholarship (voucher) program and its related funding, 2) school discipline policies and their impact on the school to prison pipeline, 3) the installation of a new school board in January, and 4) plans to retool the state’s high school diploma. As we enter 2014, I’ve outlined 5 key public education issues parents and locals should watch.

1. More Common Core – While the state delayed student and teacher accountability under the new standard, it will be important in 2014 for concerned citizens, parents, and educators to pay attention to what the state does in the interim. This delayed timeline should be accompanied with additional supports to school districts and teachers in the way of professional development, supporting curricular frameworks to help support the rigorous demands of Common Core. Parents should look for and demand additional tools to the Common Core’s website. Teachers and parents alike need tools they can  use to support student development in alignment with the new standards.

2. What does Career and Technical Education mean in 2014?  The entering freshman class of 2014-2015, will be the first class to matriculate through the new guidelines for the high school diploma. While it isn’t expected that the new CTE option will impact students until their junior year, the policy is expected to be finalized in the spring of 2014. Parents and educators should pay close attention to the details of these new guidelines. Specifically, educator and parents should be attentive to the requirements of the CTE diploma and how certification requirements align with and/or allow students to maintain academic course required for future college matriculation.

3.Will the Left Behind Elementary and Secondary Education Act get picked up? Will Congress and the Obama administration reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (aka No Child Left Behind)? Versions of the bill have been developed in both chambers.  Perhaps with mid-term elections looming, one party or the other will hang its hat on a new passage.   

4. Selection of a Superintendent – One might ask, what is the importance or significance of the selection of a Superintendent? It is very important! This decision will play a major role in charting the course for the direction of public education in New Orleans. This may be the most influential decision the Orleans Parish School Board will make this year. The selected Superintendent will likely guide the question of whether schools return. Moreover, it seems this leader will be charged with providing the vision of a unified school district. A slate of finalist is expected to be presented the Board in February of 2014 – www.opsb.us

5. Report cards and One App come to Pre –K? -That’s right, final decisions on early childhood report cards and a possible centralized enrollment process for early childhood providers will be rolled out in 2014 as a part of the countdown to full implementation of the Early Childhood Act – Act 3.

2014 will be a big year as that state moves closer to the 2015 countdown to a coordinated and comprehensive early childhood system. Parents  should stay tuned to the following: 1) plans for early childhood “application” potentially akin to the ONE App for early childhood,  2)criteria for an early childhood report card and the role/integration of Quality Rating System into the new state system reporting and accountability system for early childhood. These are major decisions which are likely to impact access to quality childcare.  Key organizations tracking these policy developments are: Louisiana Partnership for Children and Families  and OPEN.