In The News › Keeping school reforms on track

Jul 12, 2008

Source: Times-Picayune

Filed under: On the Ballot, Orleans Parish, Schools

Keeping school reforms on track

Posted by Scott Cowen and Dan Packer July 11, 2008 6:23PM

In just two years, a mix of new and veteran educators have done what no educational reform movement had been able to do in Orleans Parish in over 30 years: They changed the landscape of public education and gave us hope for the future of our children and city.

As the Bureau of Governmental Research recently wrote, “The New Orleans public school system is in the early stages of what is perhaps the most radical transformation in the history of U.S. public education.”

Test scores in all public schools, charter and traditional, have finally pulled Orleans out of last place in our state. The Orleans Parish School Board has completed two “clean” audits of its financial records since the storm. Six new schools are being built, the first since the 2005 storms.

Pollster Silas Lee says that six of 10 voters believe public education in the city has improved, largely due to the opening of public charter schools since Katrina.

In short, our public education system is improving and getting better each day. And it is largely because principals and teachers have been empowered to do what they do best: Run their school to best meet the needs of their students. We’re proud of this hard work, and like most New Orleanians, agree that this historic effort to rebuild and rethink our public schools has led the recovery effort in Orleans Parish. Student performance, management accountability and parental involvement are all on the rise.

Now it is our turn to keep this recovery going. Twenty years ago, four millages were dedicated to public education to help purchase textbooks, fund early childhood education programs, repair buildings and support teacher salaries. Voters have renewed this millage once, in 1998, and these four dedicated millages are up for renewal again this year, on July 19.

We support this millage renewal, which provides $32 million for programs that benefit every child in the city’s public schools. Every public school — charter and traditional; Orleans Parish School Board and Recovery School District — will receive these revenues. Renewing these four propositions will not raise taxes. Renewing these millages will continue programs every school depends on for every public school student. The revenue generated by these millages provides approximately $1,000 to every student in a public school. Thus, renewal is critical to school operations. It’s an investment we must continue, not only for our children, but for the future of our city.

Our children are the future of New Orleans, and this is why we are leading an effort to ask for your vote to renew these four ballot propositions. The Bureau of Governmental Research, the Chamber of Commerce, the New Orleans Regional Black Chamber, the New Orleans Business Council and the Urban League of Greater New Orleans all support this renewal because, like us, they believe public schools are on the right track. There has been consistent growth in measurable standards of performance and stability in leadership. We need to continue this momentum.

Make the commitment on July 19 to renew the four millages for our children. Renewal keeps all public schools in New Orleans moving forward on the path of progress, and voting “yes” keeps us on track.

Scott Cowen is the president of Tulane University. Dan Packer is the former chief executive officer of Entergy New Orleans, Inc. They are co-chairs of the Public Education Progress Committee.

Jul 12, 2008

Source: Times-Picayune

Filed under: On the Ballot, Orleans Parish, Schools

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