Issue: # 4 April  2009 

Welcome to 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. 
Policy Update
  • RSD presented the 2010 Budget. Paul Vallas reported that he expected additional Restart monies of "roughly $250 per kid." I've been told the number will be $205.  
  • BESE will establish an RSD Oversight Committee as well as an RSD Advisory Committee of citizens that will rotate the location of their meetings to include New Orleans. The discussion was lead by Tracie Washington and BESE member Louella Givens.


  • HB 848 is being turned into a Study Resolution at the request of the author, Rep. Pat Smith, and may be discussed next week at the legislature.  Stay tuned for updates. 
  • House Resolution 33 by Rep. Leger is expected to get out of House Education Wednesday, the 27th. The resolution requests BESE to study charter school use of city, parish, and other local public school system owned facilities and submit a written report. This resolution was brought to Leger by the Cowen Institute.  
  • HB 156 mandating that all charter schools join TRSL did not make it out of the House Retirement Committee. Rep. Hollis Downs from Ruston did a very nice job in leading the debate on this issue including expressing concerns that the bill wasn't really intended to improve quality for teachers, but was merely a bill to prop up TRSL. I expect that we will see this issue again in future sessions.
  • SB 146 by Sen. Duplessis (Gov. Jindal's package of charter bills) passed through the Senate. The bill is now waiting for scheduling in House Education.

Stay tuned for more legislative updates, as well as "calls to action" as we continue with the 2009 Legislative Session.

DOE Charter Office Corner 
The Louisiana Department of Education has released a Request for Application (RFA) for charter school applicants interested in opening charter schools in 2010.  The RFA is available online at  Applications are due on August 21, 2009.

Through this RFA process, the Department hopes to identify charter applicants for Types 2, 4, and 5 charter schools, including organizations that may be interested in taking over the operations in failing Louisiana public schools as Type 5 charter schools.
  • Banks Elementary School and Park Elementary School, both in East Baton Rouge Parish have been transferred to the Recovery School District and are available to interested charter applicants.  If approved, charter operators would take over the operations at the schools effective July 1, 2010.
  • Robert E. Lee High School in East Baton Rouge Parish and Lowery Intermediate School in Ascension Parish are potentially eligible for transfer to the Recovery School District, pending results from the 2008-09 state assessments.  Each of these schools had been identified as Academically Unacceptable Schools for three consecutive years based on the 2007-08 state assessments.  The Department envisions making recommendations to BESE on the disposition of these schools no later than October 2009.

To ensure that charter school approval in New Orleans is aligned with the Recovery School District's outstanding needs, the RFA also includes special instructions for applicants seeking to open charter schools in New Orleans.  As New Orleans continues to move further toward the development of a sustainable system of schools, it is necessary that the growth of high-performing charter schools be tailored to meet the evolving needs of children and families in New Orleans.  Accordingly, charter proposals for New Orleans submitted in response to the RFA will only be accepted from invited applicants.


The Department will be holding a number of Charter School Application Information Sessions which are designed to provide prospective applicants with an overview of the RFA Process.  Multiple sessions will be offered to accommodate various schedules.  Louisiana Department of Education (LDE) and Recovery School District (RSD) staff will lead the sessions providing insight, tips and answering questions.  Each session will cover the following topics: 
  • Application Process and Timeline
  • Eligibility Review Process
  • Applicant Support Workshops  

Information Sessions will be held as follows: 

May 27, 2009
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
New Orleans Medard H. Nelson Charter School
3121 St Bernard
New Orleans, LA  70119
June 3, 2009
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Baton Rouge Louisiana Resource Center for Educators
5550 Florida Blvd.
Baton Rouge, LA
June 6, 2009
9:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Shreveport TBD 

The Department will be offering a series of workshops over four Saturdays in June and July in Baton Rouge to provide more detailed technical assistance on topics pertinent to developing a successful charter application.  Local and national charter school experts will lead the sessions and provide insight and details on ways to plan for a successful school and prepare a winning application.  Topics will include Mission, Vision and Goals; Education Program; Governance; Finance and more.  

Details about the workshops will be announced on the Charter Schools Office website
For additional details, please call 225-342-3640 or email  
Charter Chat with State Treasurer John Kennedy
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! 
This month we chat charters with John Kennedy, Louisiana's State Treasurer, who on May 8, 2009, traveled to New Orleans to visit our charter schools.  He visited Martin Luther King Charter School, New Orleans College Prep, Sophie B. Wright Charter School, and KIPP Believe Preparatory Academy.  Read his thoughts on the visit below. 
Question:   You recently visited charter schools in New Orleans. What compelled you to want to visit these schools?
I decided to visit because I care about elementary and secondary education and had heard and read so many good things about our charter schools in New Orleans. I wanted to see for myself if what I heard and read was true. It is. What I saw was extraordinary. Breathtaking, even, if you care about our schools. I saw well-behaved kids who were serious about learning, who were learning, and who seemed to enjoy learning. I saw teaching professionals who were being allowed to do their jobs, and were doing them well. I saw optimism, enthusiasm and hope. If you believe, as I do, that every child can learn, even in a high-poverty school, the four charter schools I visited in New Orleans are compelling evidence. 
Question:  What 3 things impressed you most about the charter schools you visited?
Answer:  What I saw was extraordinary. Breathtaking, even, if you care about our schools. I saw well-behaved kids who were serious about learning, who were learning, and who seemed to enjoy learning. I saw teaching professionals who were being allowed to do their jobs, and were doing them well. I saw optimism, enthusiasm and hope. If you believe, as I do, that every child can learn, even in a high-poverty school, the four charter schools I visited in New Orleans are compelling evidence.

Question:  You volunteer 4 or 5 times a year as a substitute teacher in public schools. Tell us about that and why you do it?

Answer:  I have done this 2 or 3 times a year in the East Baton Rouge public schools for the last 5 years or so. I do it to experience what it is like to be a teacher today, to try to understand what it is like to be a kid today, and to gain insight into public eduation today. Too many public officials and policy makers only experience public education, if they experience it at all, by speaking to a civics class for 10 minutes. They need to substitute teach. I have tried to pass legislation several times requiring statewide elected officials and legislators to substitute teach every year, but have not been successful.
Question:   Would you recommend or encourage other policy makers to visit a charter school in their area?  
  Every state and local politician who impacts education policy in any way should visit the charter schools in New Orleans. We should be doing this statewide. 
Sandra Bullock Honored by Warren Easton High School
NEW ORLEANS - Actress Sandra Bullock was inducted Friday into a New Orleans high school's "Hall of Fame" after donating tens of thousands toward rebuilding the public school heavily flooded by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Bullock took the auditorium stage at Warren Easton High School to a standing ovation from about 300 people. She said she couldn't take all the credit for renovations after the school suffered $4 million in damages from nearly 10 feet of floodwater from the storm.

"I just write the checks," the actress said, adding she "rides the coattails of people who do amazing things."

Bullock's portrait - drawn in crayon by her 5-year-old stepdaughter Sunny - was added to a school hallway alongside dozens of portraits of alumni who went on to become famous musicians, sports stars, judges and doctors.

The exact amount of her donation hasn't been made public. But Bullock called it "the best investment I ever made."

In an interview, Bullock said she was "embarrassed" by the federal government's slow response after Katrina and felt compelled to help however she could.

Her donation helped fund scholarships, new band uniforms and renovations of the school auditorium. She said providing for new band uniforms was important because of New Orleans' rich music history. School graduates include jazz clarinetist Pete Fountain, also in the hall of fame.

"It's not just reading, writing and arithmetic," she said. "Where's the joy in life? In New Orleans, it's in music."

Bullock has visited the school many times since Katrina. Warren Easton, a predominantly black inner city school, dates its origins to 1844 as one of Louisiana's oldest public schools.

Bullock was joined Friday by her husband, celebrity motorcycle builder Jesse James, and James' daughter Sunny.
-Associated Press
Charter School Teachers Fair a Great Success!
Thanks to all the charter schools who participated in the 2009 Charter School Teachers Fair held Saturday, May 16, at Xavier University.
The event was a great success with over 300 teacher candidates in attendance from all over the country looking to teach in New Orleans charter schools!
Thanks to the Eastbank Collaborative, Algiers Charter Schools Association, the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, and Baptist Community Ministries for sponsoring such an important event for our charter school community!

Job Listings Now On LAPCS Website
Please note that the LAPCS website now has a statewide job vacancy posting page on our website.  Please let your HR or recruiting staffer know that this resource is available. To access the page, click HERE.
The Eastbank Collaborative of Charter Schools also has a New Orleans job vacancy page available.  To access this site, click HERE.

Grant Opportunities

In partnership with NSNO, the LAPCS is pleased to bring you a comprehensive list of grant opportunities that may be of interest to Louisiana's charter schools.  The list is updated daily with new and interesting grant opportunities, so check back often! To visit the list click HERE.
****Register by June 30, 2009 and be automatically entered to win one complimentary conference registration!****
Registration is officially open for the 2nd Annual Louisiana Charter Schools Conference to be held September 11-12 at the Hampton Inn & Suites (Convention Center location) in New Orleans.  Special conference rates at the hotel are $79/nt. for a standard room and $129/nt. for a suite (Limited availability; Rate available until on August 11th).  Click HERE to reserve a room.
This year's conference will grow to a 2 day event with more breakout sessions, vendors, and networking events!
Request for Presenters!
We are also pleased to announce that we are involving our charter school community in this year's conference!  The Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools is soliciting proposals for speakers to present breakout sessions at the 2009 conference.  Please take the opportunity to share your knowledge, expertise, and best practices with your charter school peers. Deadline for submission is June 30, 2009.  Download the form HERE.
Award Ceremony Nominations! 
We are pleased to announce the kickoff of the 1st Annual LAPCS Charter School Awards.  These awards are designed to recognize the contributions of school leaders, teachers, board members, schools, and community leaders in their efforts to advocate for, support, or enhance Louisiana's public charter schools.  The awards ceremony will take place on Friday evening, September 11, 2009.  Download the information packet and nomination form HERE!
Charter School Innovators: Workshop and Networking Series 
CSI Series: Public Relations 101, Creating a P.R. Plan of Action by Gary Larson
When:  June 3, 2009, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.
Where: TBA
Workshop Description: Your charter school can benefit greatly from a masterful public relations strategy.  Learn basic tips on getting your school's positive message out to local news sources, how to draft a press release, pitch various news sources, and learn basic media relations skills.  Understand how to select and train a school spokesperson and refine key charter school messages.

Registration Required: Please register HERE.
**Refreshments will be served.

About Gary Larson:  Gary Larson is Founder and President of Larson Communications, a strategic communications and media relations firm that specializes in education reform and charter schools.  Seasoned in crisis communications and strategic positioning, Gary spent six years leading the charge to raise public awareness and support for the California charter school movement, often during tumultuous times.

Highlights of his three years as vice president of the California Charter Schools Association include:  Leading public awareness efforts supporting two major lawsuits aimed at ensuring facilities funding for charter schools, launching the highly successful and unifying "My School" campaign, and spearheading countless media campaigns covered by every major news outlet in the state as well as The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and USA Today.  During Larson's tenure, support for California charter schools increased dramatically and enrollment doubled.

What others have said:
"Gary has helped in immeasurable ways to advance the mission of charter schools and to ensure that the public understands why they are so important. He has been brilliant at placing the right stories in the press, effective at putting out fires and very creative in giving us the brand of 'My School!' In Gary's efforts to frame our work as part of a movement based on quality, he has been ahead of others' thinking. His vision in understanding that our movement has to stand for quality was prescient, and we owe him our gratitude for advancing this mission. Gary's service to the movement will only help it continue to succeed nationally."

Caprice Young
California Charter Schools Association

"The charter school movement in California would not be where it is today without the sound advice and tireless efforts of Gary Larson. Whether it is crisis management or framing longer-term messaging and media relationships, Gary's instincts and judgment are superb. And running through all his work is a deep commitment to providing better educational options to all kids."

Chris Nelson
Managing Director
Doris & Donald Fisher Fund
 CSI for Business Managers: Wine & Cheese Event
Best practices in end-of-year reporting, preparing for audits, and reporting to the charter school board
When: Tuesday, June 9th, 2009, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Where: Savvy Gourmet (downstairs room)
               4519 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70115

*Wine and light refreshments will be served.
Registration Required. REGISTER HERE
Featured Speaker: Cedric Lewis, Chief Financial Officer, Recovery School District
Purpose of the Business Managers CSI:
To network and develop stronger relationships with other charter school business managers, directors of finance and operations, etc. who are facing similar challenges and can turn to each other for help and advice;
  • To provide a forum for business managers and finance directors to share best practices and solutions to similar challenges;
  • To hear from experts on important topics such as end-of-year reporting, managing reporting to board members, and getting ready for audits;
  • To hear about upcoming policy changes and challenges in funding for the 2009-2010 school year.
  • New Orleans Members Advisory Council
    The LAPCS Members Advisory Council is a key organizational component in identifying problem issues, setting priorities, gathering data, communicating important issues, resolving problems, and more.  
    Next MAC Meeting:
    When:  June 30, 2009
    Where: Warren Easton Senior High School Library 
    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
    On Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009 at 10:00 a.m., Joshua Foster and Dr. Tina Sartori from Turning Technologies will be in New Orleans to discuss TurnItUp Student Achievement Programs. As a leader in student response (or "clicker") technology, Turning Technologies offers research-based, whole school solutions that focus on increasing student achievement through the use of their PowerPoint-based polling software, TurningPoint.

    In addition to a live demonstration of TurningPoint, Mr. Foster and Dr.
    Sartori will discuss: 
    • Turn Up Achievement: a program that focuses on strong leadership,
      consistent data collection and analysis, continuous professional
      development, proven curriculum and community support 
    • Turn Up Learning: a problem-solving, Response to Intervention [RTI] Program designed for schools that are committed to identifying instructional needs and intervening with evidence-based practices 
    • Turn Up Engagement: a program designed for multi-discipline
      integration of educational gaming [Edugaming] for accelerating learning in core subject areas and a progress monitoring system to ensure student achievement
    Teachers, administrators and technology staff are encouraged to attend
    and learn more about the role of student response in the modern
    classroom. Complimentary refreshments and snacks will be provided
    courtesy of Turning Technologies.
    Contact Folwell Dunbar at or 225.439.6971

    Survey Reminder!

      Attention Charter School Leaders! 

    The survey you received from the RAND Corporation, created with Tulane's Cowen Institute, is due by the end of May.  Everyone who returns a completed survey will receive a $30 check as a thank you for participating.  Schools across New Orleans, charter and traditional, are participating.  Let's make sure that the charter voice is heard in this important research study.

    Welcome New LAPCS Members!
    New School Members:
    Langston Hughes Academy  
    New Orleans Charter Foundation (McDonogh City Park Academy) 
    *We currently represent 48 schools throughout Louisiana.
    New Vendors / Non-Profit Members:
    KRH Consulting LLC
    KRH Consulting, LLC offers a wide range of financial consulting services to our clients. We believe the fiduciary responsibility of board members is very important and work to implement strong policies and procedures in order to meet all fiduciary responsibilities. Meaningful, well-organized financial records ensure that your operations will run more efficiently on a daily basis.
    Articles of Interest 
    "A Plan for Parents to Shut Down Schools"
    U.S. News & World Report
    May 12, 2009 
    It might be the next school movement to sweep the country. Emboldened by charter school operators, parents of children attending failing schools in Los Angeles are signing petitions that could force the nation's second-largest school system to shut down those schools and reopen them as charters.
    "In Politics of School Reform, Transparency Doesn't Equal Accountability"
    U.S. News & World Report
    May 14, 2009
    Transparency is useful but will not, on its own, bring reform, writes Andrew J. Rotherham in U.S. News & World Report. This was shown with the No Child Left Behind Act, whose architects now concede they thought information alone would in large part drive change. In fact, says Rotherham, over the past half-century, "federal education policy has succeeded only when coupled with civil rights laws or linked to clear conditions and enforcement."
    "Charter-Style Schools Catching on Across the World"
    Education Week
    May 20, 2009 
    According to Education Week, "charter-style schools" are catching on across the world. At least 14 other countries have introduced some form of "market-based schooling" in the last two decades: the United Kingdom, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Qatar, Singapore, and Tanzania. "We have, relative to many countries, a fairly decentralized system, and our version of charters is quite decentralized," said one of the University of Southern California researchers who recently studied the growth of such schools.
    "New Study Says Charter Schools Only Improve Education"
    The Heartland Institute
    May 25, 2009 
    According to Opposing Views, a March 2009 RAND Corporation study found that charter schools do not harm traditional public schools and that charter students are more likely to graduate high school and continue to college than any other public school students. The study examined schools in Florida, Ohio, Texas, Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and San Diego.
    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.  
    Contact Caroline at
    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.
    Contact Andrea at 
    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. 
    Contact Elizabeth at
    In This Issue
    Legislative Session
    DOE Update
    Charter Chat
    Article Headline
    Article Headline
    Articles of Interest
    Staples Buying Program


    2009 Louisiana Charter Schools Conference
    September 11-12, 2009
    New Orleans, La

    ***See more information about venue and keynote speakers in "Events" below***


    Interested in saving 15-85% off the list-price on office and classroom supplies? 

     Learn more about our STAPLES Statewide Charter Schools Buying Program open to all LAPCS members!  Click HERE!


    GOOD NEWS!  
    Charter School Students win bookmark design contest as a part of library's "Children's Book Week"
    Winners in the 11 and younger category are:  First place: Tommy Rick, a fifth-grade student at Lusher Charter School; Helena Usey a pre-kindergarten student at Audubon Charter School
    Winners in the 12 to 18 category are: First place: Stephen Uwaezuokem, a ninth-grade student at Abramson Science & Technology School; third place: David Ducros, a ninth-grade student at Warren Easton High School.
    Ben Franklin student to perform with the Berklee City Music All-Star Ensemble at Quincy Jones Music Consortium in NYC
    Benjamin Franklin Senior High School Senior, NOCCA student, and trumpet player Linton Smith was selected to perform with the Berklee City Music All-Star Ensemble at the Quincy Jones Music Consortium conference in New York City on April 29.
    Congratulations, Linton!
    Warren Easton High School Student honored with 2009 Louisiana Young Heroes Award
    LPB and the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge are co-presenters of the program, which honors students in grades 4-12 who have excelled in the classroom, made contributions to their community, overcome adversity and inspired others.  Congratulations to Helen Meridy, 17, a senior at Warren Easton Charter Senior High School for being honored!
    John Alford of NOLA 180 honored at TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People Gala!

    John hobnobbed with the likes of First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah at the event!  Congratulations, John!
    Read More Here.
    Have a Voice! 
    Have you joined the LAPCS as a member?  For more information about membership  and it's many benefits, click here.