Filed Under:  Education

School choice forum welcomes ‘candid’ dialogue

27th July 2015   ·   0 Comments

By Mason Harrison
Contributing Writer

School experts took a break last emergency loans unlv Thursday from the white papers and flow charts that have come to define education analysis in New Orleans and opted to gauge the success of the city’s “system of schools” by putting a finger in real time on the pulse of those most affected by education policies—parents.

The Orleans Public Education Network, in partnership with the Louisiana Black Alliance for Educational Options, the Urban League of Greater New Orleans and STAND for Children Louisiana, hosted a “candid conversation,” according to material promoting the event, at Dillard University July 23 to field parents’ views on school choice, overall accountability, board governance and the OneApp program.

“Sometimes we complain, in talking about education, that things would be okay ‘If only we could get the parents right, if only parents were involved,’” said Dr. Andre Perry, the founding dean of urban education at Davenport University and a former education expert at Loyola University in New Orleans. “But research shows Black parents are involved, but often lack the information necessary to do more.”

The Dillard panel was designed to close the knowledge gap with a group of parents comprised of six women and one man. Perry started the discussion by culling their views on the OneApp school application program, with one parent praising the options available through the application process. “We have great claim on line schools,” she said. “Just not great neighborhoods.” Her response drew groans from the audience.

Others challenged the application itself. “My son isn’t applying to college,” said a woman whose son wasn’t accepted into an A school in her area. “The application is complicated and I have to wait for a letter in the mail as if he is going off to school. Now he has to get up early and head across town to go to school.” Her criticism of cross-town bussing drew applause from many in an audience of several hundred.

Perry polled the audience on several issues, including what agency should manage schools in Orleans Parish, parents’ understanding of new teaching standards and in what areas children need the most academic support. Parents texted their responses to each poll question to a designated number while their balloting was reflected in real time on a screen set up to display answers to each poll question.

More than 60 percent of parents backed the return of schools to the Orleans Parish School Board, 15 percent preferred a system run by the Recovery School District, while just four percent favored schools being under the jurisdiction of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. But the second highest tally came from parents who had “no preference” in school governance at derbyshire unsecured loans 25 percent.

Forty-four percent of parents “totally” understand, as asked in the poll, the new teaching standards under the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, followed by 30 percent who hold “little” information and 21 percent with no knowledge about what’s required of their children. Forty-five percent of those parents said their children need just a little amount of support to do well on PARCC testing, with 44 and 15 percent saying their children need some or a lot of help respectively.

Math and English are the subjects where students seemed to struggle the most, with 40 percent of parents ringing the alarm in those areas. Math, as a standalone subject, caused 20 percent of parents to vote for more help, followed by five percent saying their children need more help in English. But test preparation overall, according to 40 percent of parents, is an area where students need a hand in order to pass.

“I don’t like all of this high-stakes testing,” said a woman on the panel. “If you look at other countries like Singapore, there is one major test at the end of schooling and they are doing better than us.”

This article originally published in the July 27, 2015 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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