AIE Blog

News and notes on innovations and education reform in Louisiana.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Education Equality in Louisiana

I recently became a signatory to the Education Equality Project, EEP, because I believe that every student in America deserves a great teacher and every family deserves a great school. In Louisiana, we are making tremendous progress toward equality in education, but have a long road ahead of us. AIE is committed to working alongside organizations like EEP whose signatories include Dr. Michael Lomax of UNCF, Chancellor Joel Klein of the NYC Public Schools, and a host of education and political leaders across the nation. In Louisiana, EEP's signatories include Paul Pastorek, Superintendent of the Louisiana State Department of Education and Paul Vallas, Superintendent of the New Orleans Recovery School District.

Take a moment to learn about the Education Equality Project and reflect on what you can do to help. Start by reading this from their website,

The Education Equality Project is leading a civil rights movement to eliminate the racial and ethnic achievement gap in public education by working to create an effective school for every child.
What are our goals?

* Ensure an effective teacher in every classroom, and an effective principal in every school, by paying educators as the professionals they are, by giving them the tools and training they need to succeed, and by making tough decisions about those who do not;
* Empower parents by giving them a meaningful voice in where their children are educated including public charter schools;
* Create accountability for educational success at every level—at the system and school level, for teachers and principals, and for central office administrators;
* Commit to making every decision about whom we employ, how money is spent, and where resources are deployed with a single-minded focus: what will best serve our students, regardless of how it affects other interests;
* Call on parents and students to demand more from their schools, but also to demand more from themselves;
* Have the strength in our convictions to stand up to those political forces and interests who seek to preserve a failed system.

This post was contributed by Dr. Kristy Hebert, CEO of Advance Innovative Education.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Incentivizing investment in education reform

With billions of dollars going to fund R&D in clean technology -- and hundreds of millions of dollars coming from the US Department of Energy, why can't the US Department of Education follow their lead?

Innovation often comes from the private sector IN PARTNERSHIP with the public sector. One example that comes to mind is the Internet -- a publicly incubated idea that was transformed for social good, commerce, entertainment, etc. thanks to entrepreneurial investments.

Unfortunately, the education sector including many well-intentioned education reformers overlook the value of private capital in the education space. Just check out the National Journal's expert blog question this week. The responses are a sure sign that many in education (and education reform) are missing the point -- innovation flows from incentivized investments by private, public and philanthropic sources.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Social entrepreneurs

The New York Times had an interesting piece on Sunday about teachers selling their lesson plans online and how some have made upwards of $30,000 or more doing it. That is one example of how innovation is going to transform public schools IN SPITE OF resistance from the establishment. In this case, public school teachers are turning to the Internet to find and purchase supplemental or even substitute lesson plans.

Think about it -- good teachers are trying to become great teachers and so they are looking online for innovative ways to become the teachers they aspire to be. And great teachers with entrepreneurial aptitude are building a thriving marketplace for lesson-based IP. That helps kids learn -- no doubt about it.

AIE is part of the new culture of entreprenurial innovation that is taking place in education. At RLRP, Redesigning Lessons, Re-Envisioning Principals, we have partnered with LSU's College of Business as well as nationally known experts on social entrepreneurship to teach entrepreneurial leadership to principals who are heading up our state's schools. Entrepreneurial thinking is critical to leveraging the best ideas so that others educators can benefit and student performance can too. Our mission at RLRP is to inspire principals to become social entrepreneurs and operate schools as successful organizations while always focusing on student achievement. We are now accepting application packets for the Class of 2011. The application deadline is March 19, 2010.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Louisiana gets serious about innovation

Reading more deeply into the Leaders and Laggards report issued by the US Chamber of Commerce, the Center for American Progress and Frederick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute, we found that Louisiana is singled out for its commitment to innovation. The study reports that in Louisiana 22% of teachers enter the profession through an alternative certification program, compared with the national average of 13%. Louisiana also received a gold star from the Leaders and Laggards report for participating in national programs authorized to certify nontraditional administrators.

Louisiana has already received high praise for its efforts at innovation from President Obama and his Education Secretary Arne Duncan. That's great news for Louisiana's students, and a clear recognition that our state and its leaders are committed to innovation.

Creating alternate paths to teaching like AIE's Transition to Teaching means that passionate teachers from diverse experiences and professional backgrounds are making their way into classrooms across the state. AIE's Redesigning Lessons, Re-Envisioning Principals program is also providing innovative entrepreneurial leadership training for our state's principals. These innovations are part of the state's larger effort to address old problems with new solutions. That's what innovation is all about in education, and Louisiana's efforts are getting noticed at the national level.

Recently, a group of nationally recognized experts in education innovation gathered in Baton Rouge with the goal of creating two unique and visionary public charter schools. AIE led the design team of educators, architects, technologists and education reformers. These innovators designed a STEM school and a Digital Media Arts school both of which will be housed in the acclaimed Shaw Center for the Arts. Downtown Baton Rouge is excited about welcoming these innovative high schools to the community, and religious and community leaders have mobilized to support these dynamic schools too.

The two schools' applications are currently sitting before the East Baton Rouge School Board. Superintendent Dilworth has publicly praised the community organizing and leadership of Pastor Raymond Jetson in bringing these schools to the attention of eager Baton Rouge area students and their parents. We urge the EBR Board to approve the applications and continue to advance the state's commitment to innovation that our nation's leaders are applauding.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Race to the Top and the Capacity to Innovate

Louisiana is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the Department of Education's Race to the Top (RttT) fund which will provide billions of dollars in funding to states that have shown the capacity to innovate and the commitment to transform failing schools. However, it is a competitive process and every state can apply.

The states are jumping into the competition with both feet as waves of reform take shape. Last week, the Wisconsin legislature removed a prohibition against using student test data to evaluate teachers. This barrier would have made Wisconsin ineligible for RttT funding. They voted for a requirement to create a system to track students from pre-school through post-secondary education.

Our State Superintendent Paul Pastorek is a leader in the national education reform movement and we are fortunate to have his guidance in our state. Working with the legislature, Louisiana removed the caps on the number of charters our state may have. Pastorek's efforts rely on INNOVATION and are helping to turn around student achievement. Thanks to his leadership, our state will undoubtedly submit one of the strongest RttT applications.

Local superintendents are now lining up to find schools that can receive the RttT funding and begin to mae the sweeping changes needed. Another opportunity for local sup's is to approve innovative charter school applications that are on their desks right now.

Don't think that DC grant readers will overlook it if innovative charters are shelved by the same superintendents who want RttT grant funding.

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