As Louisiana students begin the first full month of school this week, the Nola.com/Times-Picayune editorial board looks at some unlikely success stories in public education – schools with a high percentage of students in poverty that still manage to rack up high test scores.
(The Council for a Better Louisiana) analyzed Louisiana’s school performance data for 2016-17. At 644 schools statewide, 75 percent or more of students were classified as economically disadvantaged, CABL found. Of those high-poverty schools, 124 had gotten an A or B grade from the state. “These are schools that in many cases faced tremendous challenges, but still found ways to help their students succeed,” CABL said. … Successful schools share some common qualities: strong leaders, high expectations, clear goals, sharp focus on improvement. But there is more to it. “We’ve got students who are really, really hurting,” Union Parish High School principal David Gray said. Poverty isn’t only a physical fact, it also affects children emotionally.
But The Advocate’s editorial board notes that Louisiana’s teacher salaries have slipped behind other Southern states, and the nation at large, over the past decade. Gov. John Bel Edwards hopes to make amends starting next year, when he plans to recommend a 2.75 percent boost to the state K-12 funding formula.
In our capitalist society, one gets what one pays for, and obviously keeping up with the Southern average on teacher pay represents a long-term investment in better educational outcomes. Still, it’s important to remember that the average includes teachers of long service with advanced degrees as well as those entering the profession.
‘Holistic’ admissions at LSU
LSU is joining a national trend by reducing the importance of standardized test scores in gaining admission to the state’s flagship public university. By adopting a more “holistic admissions” policy, the university hopes to put more emphasis on personal essays, after-school activities and recommendations in deciding which students can attend. As The Advocate’s Mark Ballard reports, experts are divided on how the change could affect students from low-income or troubled backgrounds:
“There is a trend of removing the standardized test scores. They’re not as good at predicting college success,” Droddy said. Test scores don’t properly portray low-income and minority students, those coming from poor schools, or those who have learning disabilities or family problems, or who just don’t test well but otherwise have demonstrated academic perseverance deserving of a closer look. But the concept is not without controversy. Some say “holistic admissions” is a subtle avenue to admit the unqualified children of donors and the powerful while limiting the numbers of minorities.
‘Public charge’ change is already wreaking havoc
Some depressing news from POLITICO: A looming federal policy change aimed at deterring immigration is already prompting some mothers to turn down help from a government program that provides critical infant nutrition. Those who turn down benefits offered by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) are worried that they could one day be denied a green card as a result of accepting government benefits. It comes as President Donald Trump’s administration is planning to broadly redefine a century-old federal policy that allows would-be immigrants to be rejected if they are likely to require cash benefits or long-term institutional care. Helena Bottemiller Evich reports:
Agencies in at least 18 states say they’ve seen drops of up to 20 percent in enrollment, and they attribute the change largely to fears about the immigration policy. … Health advocates say the policy change could put more babies who are U.S.-born citizens at risk of low birth weight and other problems — undermining public health while also potentially fueling higher health care costs at taxpayer expense. WIC — formally the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children — serves about half of all babies born in the U.S by providing vouchers or benefit cards so pregnant women and families with small children can buy staple foods and infant formula. The program is also designed to support women who are breastfeeding.
Fifty four years at minimum wage
Othea Loggan moved to Chicago from Greenville, Miss., in 1964, as many before him did, and took a job bussing tables at a pancake restaurant for minimum wage. Fifty four years later Loggan is still there, doing the same job, commuting two hours each way, and still being paid the lowest hourly rate that the law allows. The Chicago Tribune’s Christopher Borrelli with a Labor Day tale about the dignity of work that is both inspiring and infuriating.
He had seen generations of customers and co-workers pass through; he’d been there so long he watched Bill Murray go from neighborhood kid to superstar to venerated elder. When he squinted, the same teenagers were still curled into the same booths, the same infants tossed crayons under the same tables, the same captains of industry put away the same post-workout pancake stacks. … Loggan, after 54 years, along with his fellow bussers, still makes minimum wage. (Management says this averages out to roughly $14 an hour with tips, before taxes.) What he doesn’t receive: a pension, health care, a typical 401K plan.
Number of the Day
22 – Minimum ACT score required for admission to LSU. Under a new ‘holistic’ approach, test scores will be de-emphasized in favor of a more in-depth look at a student’s achievements (Source: The Advocate)