Issue: # 1 January 2009 
Lafayette Academy

Welcome to the 1st edition of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools Email Newsletter.  We will  keep you updated on current charter school issues, news, and events.  Please let us know if there is anything else you would like to see in our communications to you or if you have a charter success story you would like to share.   As always, thank you for your support and voice in Louisiana's charter school movement.  Happy New Year!
Policy News

In December BESE approved 8 new charters:  In New Orleans, Pride College Preparatory Academy, Arise Academy, Success Preparatory Academy, and Benjamin E. Mays Preparatory Academy will open in the 2009-10 school year.  A new elementary school and a new high school operated by KIPP New Orleans are slated to open in the 2010-11 year. Also, Lagniappe Academies of New Orleans is scheduled for a 2010-11 opening. One new charter high school is slated to open in Baton Rouge for 2009-10 as an extension of the Community School for Apprenticeship Learning. 
There were several other charter applications that were denied but that BESE members deferred for further discussion at the January meeting including applications for New Orleans, East Feliciana Parish and St. Helena Parish. 
After several schools districts rerouted iLeap and Leap test scores of high performing students attending magnet schools to other, sometimes low performing schools, the state's School and District Accountability Commission voted to recommend to BESE to not allow such rerouting.
The Commission supports a policy that requires a student's score to remain at the school where the child is enrolled. State Superintendent Paul Pastorek and other stakeholders opposed rerouting of scores because it did not give a clear, accurate picture of a school's academic performance.  The recommendation still must go before BESE for final approval.

Currently of the 71 schools placed in the Recovery School District, 66 are in New Orleans, four in Baton Rouge and one in Pt. Coupee. This week BESE will consider the takeover of up to 31 more schools - none of which are in New Orleans.  
Eligible for takeover are 31 schools: twelve in East Baton Rouge Parish, ten in Caddo, two in Rapides, and one each are in nine other rural parishes.    
The debate is expected to be a very heated. Local school districts are not happy about the right of the state to takeover schools, especially since they stand to lose a portion of the MFP dollars for students at that school.  In an effort to call parents to action to defend against the takeover, districts have been conducting community meetings asking parents to attend the BESE meeting.
Louisiana continues to take huge strides towards improving the quality of public education in our state according to Education Week magazine's 13th annual "Quality Counts 2009: Portraits of a Population", an assessment of education progress for states around the country. Louisiana's school accountability system ranked as one of the best in the nation, coming in at 2nd.  Additionally, Louisiana's effort to improve teacher quality was recognized as the sixth in the country.  
Unfortunately, the news is not all positive. In the category termed "Chance-for-Success"   which provides perspective on the role of education at each stage of a person's life, Louisiana is among the four lowest ranked states with a rating of "D+."  To view the report: Click HERE.
Featured Issue
Revolution Foods:  Healthy, tasty, and affordable meals for charter school students
On January 8, 2009 the LAPCS hosted Kristin Richmond, CEO of Revolution Foods, an innovative and award-winning company serving healthy, tasty, and affordable meals to charter schools in California to meet with LAPCS member schools and charter management organizations.  Over 33 charter schools and healthy food nonprofits were in attendance to hear the presentation, to meet with Ms. Richmond, to discuss ways that the charter school community could help bring her company to New Orleans, and to discuss what Revolution Foods needs from our community to expand to New Orleans.

If you are interested in learning more about Revolution Foods, their pricing, menus, food standards, nutrition education, student focus groups, and if there is enough interest, what it would take to bring them to New Orleans, please contact Andrea Chen at

About Revolution Foods
Revolution Foods transforms school food services by providing healthy meals and nutrition education to schools. They serve over 100 educational programs in California including all KIPP schools (except one), Aspire Public Schools, and Green Dot.  They partner with Whole Foods Market and other natural food providers to include only the freshest ingredients and many natural and organic products in our meals. Every meal is homestyle, kid-friendly, and made with care daily.

Disclaimer: the LAPCS is a member-driven organization and does not endorse Revolution Foods as an organization.
Charter Chat with Paul Pastorek
Each monthly issue of our newsletter will feature an interview with a recognized charter leader, champion, or expert.  Is there anyone in particular you want to hear from?  Any specific questions you want answered?  Let us know!
Our first issue kicks off with an interview with our State Superintendent of Education, Paul Pastorek.
Question:  What is your most frequently asked question concerning Louisiana's charter schools, and how do you answer it? 
  "The questions I get asked most often are about the basics of charter schools.  Too many people still don't know that charter schools are public schools, that they are freely open to all students who choose to attend, that parents don't have to pay tuition, and that charters are held to the same accountability standards as traditional public schools." 
Question:  If you were granted the ability to make one change to Louisiana's public education system what change would you implement and why? 
Answer:  "From a structural perspective, we need to create a competitive public school environment.  Good schools survive and thrive and bad schools go away.  We have endured a school system run by monopolies which have little incentive to perform at high levels.  From a cultural perspective, the more serious concern that I have is our expectations for students.  We are suffering from a severe, ingrained culture of low expectations in many schools and districts."
Question:  Many view you as a charter school advocate since you've pushed for takeover schools to be chartered. What is it about charter schools that you believe can make a positive difference with these academically failing schools?
Answer:  "I think charters are good options for turning around failing schools for a number of reasons.  First, when schools have a long-standing history of failure, the time for incremental change has past.  These schools need to be taken in a completely different direction, where all management decisions -- how funds are spent, what staff is hired, what curriculum is offered, etc., -- can be made at the school site without outside influence.  At charter schools, these decisions can be made solely with the best interests of students at the school in mind.  When a district attempts to turn around a failing school, they are thinking about this school, but in the context of the larger district.  In essence, the charter allows intense, laser-like focus on turning around one particular school.  I believe that when a committed and well-organized group of educators has that type of focus, they can do amazing things for the students in that school."
Question:  What do hope your legacy as State Superintendent of Education will be?
Answer:  "To make all of our students wildly successful in life."
New Orleans Members Advisory Council
The LAPCS Members Advisory Council will be a key organizational component in identifying problem issues, setting priorities, gathering data, communicating important issues, resolving problems, and more.  
Next MAC Meeting:
When:  January 13th, 2008, 5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Where:  Warren Easton High School Library, 3019 Canal Street.
To register to attend the MAC Meeting, please email
MAC Committee Meetings 
During the December MAC meeting, we created 5 committees 
(Policy/Legislative, Operations/Finance, Quality Standards, Facilities, and Governance/Board) with the purpose of collectively finding solutions to challenges that many charter schools face.   All board members, school leaders, and school staff are welcome to sign up. 
If you would like to join one of these working committees, click here.
NAPCS Conference Logo
The only national conference devoted exclusively to public charter schools is sure to attract a tremendous line-up of outstanding school leaders and our country's top public officials. It will be an exciting time in Washington as a new administration and a new Congress get down to the nation's business next year. For more information, please visit
Save the Date 
2009 LAPCS Annual Conference
October 16-17, 2009 
Our 1st annual conference held in November of 2008 was a huge success with over 200 attendees from all over the state.   We have tentatively set the 2009 conference date for October 16-17  Mark your calendars today!  Stay tuned for more information on location, breakout sessions, keynote speakers, and special events.
Articles of Interest 
"Grading Out:  High poverty schools break through performance barrier" 
New Orleans CityBusiness
December 15, 2008 
Although conventional wisdom has long held that economically disadvantaged students have a much lower success rate than their wealthier counterparts, New Orleans public schools are beginning to tear away that stereotype. 
"Chicago School Reform could be a U.S. Model" 
Washington Post
December 30, 2008
CHICAGO -- At Cameron Elementary School west of downtown, most kids don't know the alphabet when they start kindergarten, nearly all are poor, and one was jumped by a gang recently, just off campus. But the school this year posted its highest reading and math scores ever -- a feat that earned cash bonuses for teachers, administrators, even janitors.  
Fixing D.C.'s schools:  The Charter Experiment
Washington Post
December 15, 2008
A three part investigative piece by the Washington Post that outlines the success of Washington D.C.'s charter schools.  Several great articles on charter schools as a reform solution for public education.
Report Recommends New Measures to Recruit and Prepare Next Generation of Charter School Leaders
American Chronicle 
January 4, 2009
WASHINGTON - With a substantially growing number of public charter schools anticipated over the next ten years, a report released today by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools recommends a series of new measures to recruit and prepare the next generation of leadership for these schools.
Charter Schools Can Close the Education Gap:  It is not acceptable for minority students to be four grade levels behind.
Wall Street Journal
January 12, 2009
Dear President-elect Barack Obama,
In the afterglow of your election, Americans today run the risk of forgetting that the nation still faces one last great civil-rights battle: closing the insidious achievement gap between minority and white students. Public education is supposed to be the great equalizer in America. Yet today the average 12th-grade black or Hispanic student has the reading, writing and math skills of an eighth-grade white student.
D.C. School a Test of Teachers' Grit
The Washington Post
January 11, 2009
WASHINGTON - There's a knock on the door, and a parent whose child is causing trouble at Truesdell Educational Center warily opens up. Six Truesdell employees, loaded with pizza for dinner and plans to change the child's direction, trundle into the apartment -- the boy's teacher, two social workers, a psychologist, a behavior specialist, and the principal, Brearn Wright.

New Orleans Parents' Guide

Make sure families have the most up to date information about your school

The third edition of the  New Orleans Parents' Guide to Public Schools is in the works and now is the time to make sure your school's information is up-to-date. The Parents' Guide, published annually by the New Orleans Parent Organizing Network, has become a staple of parent information in New Orleans and is an excellent opportunity to keep parents (and other community members) informed about your school. Each year, the Parents' Guide is distributed to more than 15,000 families and downloaded by another 50,000 online users.

This year the producers of the Parents' Guide are working very closely with Save Our Schools New Orleans, the folks who produce the online school database Public Schools of New Orleans Close-ups (view it online at, to collect data about schools in order to make the process of updating information simpler for school leaders. You have an opportunity to update information for both tools at once. Produce separately, each tool, one a printed guide and the other a webtool, provides added value to families who are trying to find their way to a public school in New Orleans.

Each school leader should have received an email this week with a request to update your school's information. Please take a few moments to update or verify the information. The third edition of the Parents' Guide will be released in late February. For questions about the Parents' Guide, contact Jewel Constance at For questions about Public Schools of New Orleans Close-Ups, contact Shawn Chollette @
About Us 
The mission of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools (LAPCS) is to provide a clear and distinctive voice for Louisiana's charter schools, educating the public about their progress and ensuring that they thrive for the benefit of students statewide. The Association provides leadership, member services and public information to serve and support the charter schools in their pursuit of academic excellence.   
Caroline Roemer Shirley, Executive Director
Caroline has 20 years of experience organizing, developing, and managing corporate and political communications strategies and public policy initiatives.  As the Executive Director of the Association, 
she is building a statewide coalition of charter school leaders, board members, and charter proponents.  
Andrea Chen, Membership & Programs Director
As a former New Orleans public school teacher, Andrea Chen has supervised the development and certification of teachers through the University of New Orleans Graduate School of Education, The New Teacher Project, and Teach For America.  She is a graduate of Stanford University, where she majored in Philosophy and Anthropological Sciences, earned her M.Ed. in Education Policy and Management from the University of New Orleans and Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Elizabeth Garrett, Communications Director
Elizabeth is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in Business Marketing.  Since graduation, she has worked in marketing for the Community Coffee Company.  Before joining LAPCS, she participated in outreach efforts for the Louisiana Children's Museum and the New Orleans Mission. 
In This Issue
Policy News
Featured Issue
Charter Chat
Upcoming Events
Articles of Interest
New Orleans Parents' Guide
Quick Links


Nominate a Charter School Teacher for Teacher of the Year!
Louisiana Department of Education Teacher of the Year.  Click HERE to download the application!
Avoyelles Public Charter School Choir Sings at Governor's Mansion
Congratulations to the Avoyelles Public Charter School choir who sang at the Governor's Mansion for the First Lighting of the Governor's Mansion Christmas Tree!
Ben Franklin High School #16 on US News & World Report "2008 Top 100 Public High Schools"
Congratulations to Ben Franklin High School for receiving this honor!  Keep up the great work! 
Charter Champion Mike Pitts Named as one of "40 Under 40!"
Mike Pitts, Chairman of the Board for the LAPCS
was named one of the Baton Rouge Business Reports "40 under 40."  Congratulations, Mike!
Have a Voice! 
Have you joined the LAPCS as a member?  For more information about membership  and it's many benefits, click here.