Public PolicyThe Cowen Institute is committed to conducting and publishing objective, relevant, and actionable research about governance, finances, facilities, and other operational subjects related to the new landscape of K-12 public education in New Orleans.  On an ongoing basis, the Cowen Institute will release timely analyses to inform educators, administrators, policymakers, and the community about the progress of our city’s extensive school reform efforts. In addition, our work seeks to provide research-based solutions to the major challenges impeding the success of these efforts. In this way, the Cowen Institute hopes to accelerate our city’s progress towards providing every child with the opportunity to receive a high-quality education.

For a complete listing of the Cowen Institute’s publications, visit Topics & Publications.


2014 Legislative Tracking

During each session of the Louisiana Legislature, the Cowen Institute tracks all education-related bills and resolutions from their introduction in the legislature to their final disposition at the end of the session.  To read about the bills and resolutions that the Louisiana Legislature is considering during the 2014 session, please click on the link to our legislative tracking page below. This year, our format is different; we are using one spreadsheet with three tabs: House bills, Senate bills, and major bills to watch. We have also embedded the major bills to watch tab into our webpage. We will update our legislative tracking spreadsheet weekly and the date to which the spreadsheet is current can be found at the top of each tab.

Click here to vist our 2014 Legislative Tracker:

Education-Related Bills and Resolution of Louisiana’s 2014 Legislative Session


2013 Legislative Tracking Wrap-Up

During each session of the Louisiana Legislature, the Cowen Institute tracks all education-related bills and resolutions from their introduction in the legislature to their final disposition at the end of the session.  Every week in our Legislative Update email we publish each instrument and its author, date filed, status in the legislative process, and a brief summary.  To read about the legislation from the 2013 session, please see the following documents:


2012 Legislative Tracking Wrap-Up

During each session of the Louisiana Legislature, the Cowen Institute tracks all education-related bills and resolutions from their introduction in the legislature to their final disposition at the end of the session.  Every week in our Legislative Update email we publish each instrument and its author, date filed, status in the legislative process, and a brief summary.  To read about the legislation from the 2012 session, please see the following documents:


The 2012 State of Public Education in Louisiana

This annual report is meant to inform our state legislators and key stakeholders on public education issues in Louisiana. Download the entire report by clicking here, or each section can be downloaded separately by clicking on the section title below.

Louisiana PK-12 Education: Governance, Demographics, & Enrollment

This section of the report includes information on local and state governance, 2011-2012 student demographics, and student enrollment data. It also highlights the governance structure in Orleans Parish and contains the report cover and Table of Contents.

Performance

This section includes information on school performance scores (SPS), how Louisiana compares to other states and other countries, and information on the achievement gap in the state.

Funding

This section includes information on the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP), a comparison of  local and state funding by parish, an explanation of the funding structure for public schools, and comparison of school funding in Louisiana to the rest of the country.

Race to the Top

This section includes information about Louisiana’s participation in the federal Race to the Top competitive grant competition.

Facilities

This section includes information on spending on school facilities both in Louisiana and across the country, as well as an overview of Louisiana’s school facilities needs.

Recovery School District

This section includes an explanation of the role of the Recovery School District (RSD) in Louisiana, as well as its performance in New Orleans.

Charter Schools and Choice

This section provides an overview of charter schools in the state – what they are, their governance structure, location, and student demographics—and the Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence program.


Louisiana’s Minimum Foundation Program Formula: Analyzing the Results

In Louisiana, the state constitution requires the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to “annually develop and adopt a formula…to determine the cost of a minimum foundation program of education in all public elementary and secondary schools….” This formula is commonly referred to as the MFP (or Minimum Foundation Program) formula. The MFP formula includes provisions to account for factors such as: student needs, wealth inequalities, and rewards for local tax effort.

Louisiana’s Minimum Foundation Program Formula: Analyzing the Results examines the MFP formula from several perspectives. First, general information on funding formulas is presented. Next, the basic components and structure of the MFP formula are discussed. Then, the outcomes of the formula are analyzed based on how well the goals of the formula are achieved. Total funding is examined as well as the funding generated by different parts of the formula. This section concludes that overall the MFP is regressive; wealthier districts receive higher funding. Lastly, two studies of state funding formulas are reviewed to see how the MFP compares to other states’ formulas, both which find that Louisiana exerts very low effort, comparatively.


Returning Schools to Local Control: The Recovery School District Return Policy and Its Implications

December 2011 marks the first time that  individual public schools in New Orleans will be eligible to make the choice to stay within the jurisdiction of the state-run Recovery School District (RSD) or to return to  the jurisdiction of  the local Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB). Schools’ decisions, this year and in the future, will have an impact on the governance of public schools in New Orleans for years to come.  Therefore, a full understanding of the BESE return policy, the RSD and OPSB processes, and their implications is vital. In Returning Schools to Local Control: The Recovery School District Return Policy and Its Implications, we analyze the key issues which impact schools, the RSD, the OPSB, and the community, and we provide recommendations for how the policy, and its implementation, can be improved.


The 2011 State of Public Education in Louisiana

This annual report is meant to inform our state legislators and key stakeholders on public education issues in Louisiana. Download the entire report by clicking here, or each section can be downloaded separately by clicking on the section title below.

Louisiana PK-12 Education: Governance, Demographics, & Enrollment

This first section of the report includes information on local and state governance, 2010-2011 student demographics, and student enrollment data. It also highlights the governance structure in Orleans Parish and contains the report cover and Table of Contents.

Public School Funding in Louisiana

This section includes detailed information on the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP), including the local and state shares and an explanation of the funding structure for public schools in general and in the Recovery School District. It also provides a comparison of school funding across Louisiana districts and between Louisiana and the rest of the country.

Public School Performance

This section includes information on school performance scores (SPS), how Louisiana compares to other states and other countries, and information on the achievement gap in the state.

Recovery School District

This section includes an explanation of the role of the Recovery School District (RSD) in Louisiana, as well as its performance in New Orleans.

Charter Schools

This section provides an overview of charter schools in the state – what they are, their governance structure, location, and student demographics.

Public School Facilities

This section includes information on spending on school facilities both in Louisiana and across the country, as well as an overview of Louisiana’s school facilities needs.

The Recovery School District: Louisiana’s Accountability System

This supplement to the 2011 State of Public Education in Louisiana report provides additional information about the Recovery School District (RSD), including how schools become eligible for takeover, what happens once a school is found eligible, and the RSD’s role and performance in New Orleans.


2011 Legislative Session Wrap-Up

During each session of the Louisiana Legislature, the Cowen Institute tracks all education-related bills and resolutions from their introduction in the legislature to their final disposition at the end of the session.  Every week in our Legislative Update email we publish each instrument and its author, date filed, status in the legislative process, and a brief summary.  To read about the legislation from the 2011 session, please see the following documents:


The State of Public Education in New Orleans: School Finances

In March 2011, the Cowen Institute released The State of Public Education in New Orleans: School Finances. In this publication, the Cowen Institute attempts to decipher the K-12 public education financial landscape in New Orleans. This paper describes the financial circumstances of public schools in New Orleans by providing a “bird’s eye” view of revenues and expenditures, and addresses the issues associated with a multi-district system of schools. As one-time federal funds are expended and philanthropic dollars are increasingly scarce, it is imperative that parents, educators, policymakers, and taxpayers understand how money is being spent to ensure the greatest return on investment.


Questions and Answers About the Return of Schools to Local Control

In September 2010 Superintendent Paul Pastorek is expected to make a recommendation to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) as to whether or not the Recovery School District (RSD) schools should be returned to the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) or if the schools should remain under the RSD for another 5 years. BESE will then vote on this item in December. While the law provides a roadmap for this process, there are several details left to be determined. This brief, released by the policy team at the Cowen Institute, Questions and Answers About the Return of Schools to Local Control, reviews the law and describes what is clear, unclear and what BESE has to do over the next few months leading up to their final decision.


School Siting Recommendations

In July 2010, the Cowen Institute and the Center for Urban and Public Affairs at the University of New Orleans hosted a summit on school siting.  This summit was part of a grant under the “Helping Johnny Walk to School: Sustaining Communities through Smart School Policy” program. This grant was funded through a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The purpose of the grant was to help localities in Louisiana site their schools in a way that not only achieves educational objectives, but also anchors local neighborhoods, supports better public health, and creates a cleaner environment.

The purpose of the summit was to help people think more holistically about school siting because many interests can be served at once by good siting decisions.  During the free, one-day summit, participants developed policy recommendations for local and state policymakers.


Ensuring Transparency and Accountability in the Charter School Renewal Process

As one the state’s charter school authorizers, BESE periodically evaluates and considers the renewal of charter school contracts.  2010, however, is the first in which the board will consider the renewal of Type 5 charter schools (the low-performing schools taken over by the Recovery School District and chartered by BESE).  It also marks the beginning of a number of upcoming years in which many Type 5 charter schools will come up for renewal.  With these critical decisions approaching, the Cowen Institute has released a brief titled Ensuring Transparency and Accountability in the Charter School Renewal Process in which we review national best practices and compare Louisiana’s laws and policies to what well-respected national organizations recommend.  We also describe the current year’s renewal policies and offer observations about how BESE’s policies have or have not been implemented.  Lastly, we make recommendations for how the process can be improved for schools that will be applying for charter renewals in the coming years.  To read an excerpt or the full brief, see this blog post . We welcome your comments about the paper and our recommendations.


2010 Legislative Session Wrap-Up

During each session of the Louisiana Legislature, the Cowen Institute tracks all education-related bills and resolutions from their introduction in the legislature to their final disposition at the end of the session.  Every week in our Legislative Update email we publish each instrument and its author, date filed, status in the legislative process, and a brief summary.  To read about the legislation from the 2010 session, please see the following documents:


Managing Innovation: Models for Governing the System of Public Schools in New Orleans

Tulane University’s Cowen Institute and the Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR) have released Managing Innovation: Models for Governing the System of Public Schools in New Orleans. The report presents five potential models for governing public schools in New Orleans and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Currently, New Orleans is in the midst of a sweeping reform movement, the scale of which has been seen in few cities. Two efforts, in particular, have defined the movement: the state takeover of most public schools in New Orleans and an explosion in the number of public charter schools. New Orleans has proportionately more charter schools than any other school system in the nation. Harnessing the potential of the reform movement and addressing the challenges created by the current complex system requires a new approach to education governance.

Most discussions relating to school governance focus on issues of control, such as the method of selecting board members. Managing Innovation goes beyond the traditional line of inquiry to a more fundamental issue: How should the school system in New Orleans be structured to allow the reforms under way to succeed and prosper?


The 2010 State of Public Education in Louisiana

Each section of this report can be downloaded separately by clicking on the section title.

Louisiana K-12 Education

This first section of the report includes information on local and state governance, 2009-10 student demographics, and student enrollment data. It also highlights the organizational structure in Orleans Parish and contains the report cover and Table of Contents.

Louisiana Public School Funding

This section includes detailed information on the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP), including local and state share and an explanation of the funding structure for public schools.  It also contains a section on the education provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Louisiana Public School Performance

This section includes information on school performance scores (SPS), how Louisiana compares to other states and other countries, and information on poverty and student achievement in the state.

Recovery School District

This section includes an explanation of the role of the Recovery School District (RSD), as well as its performance in New Orleans.

Charter Schools in Louisiana and Louisiana Public School Facilities

This section is designed to give you a clear picture of charter schools in the state – what they are, their governance structure, location, and student demographics.  It  includes information on state spending on school facilities, facilities construction expenditures per student, and the state’s school facilities needs.


Defining the Role of City Hall in K-12 Public Education in New Orleans

With a mayoral election on the horizon, New Orleans is looking ahead to its next political chapter and a new stage in its recovery and development. Public education remains a critical element of our progress, yet the system is still deeply in flux and in need of sustainable, transformative leadership. The system of public schools operates independently of the mayor’s office; instead it is collectively run by the Orleans Parish School Board, the Recovery School District, individual charter boards, and the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The Scott S. Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives at Tulane University (“Cowen Institute”) is often asked what role and authority the Mayor of New Orleans actually wields in our city’s public education landscape. Through the mayor’s various official powers as well as his/her political influence, he or she can actually do quite a lot to impact education and foster positive development for our city’s children, families, and communities. The mayor has authority in several areas that directly affect our children, including crime prevention, social services, playgrounds, and economic development. The mayor can also use his/her political capital to serve as a champion for our youth and advocate for their best interests while being impartial among the various school governing bodies.

Specifically, the Mayor of New Orleans can do the following:

• Coordinate the New Orleans Master Plan with the School Facilities Master Plan

• Enforce truancy laws to get school-aged children off the streets and back into schools

• Support the recommendations made by the Afterschool Partnership to support youth

To read detailed information on each recommendation click here.


Public Education in New Orleans: A Financial Analysis

In February 2009, a paper on public school finances was released. Download Here

Notably, this is the first effort to gather and analyze financial data for all of the public schools currently operating in New Orleans. The purpose of this paper is to:

  • Trace the sources of revenue that support public schools in New Orleans and to analyze how it has been allocated and spent;
  • Highlight some of the financial issues arising from the complexities faced by the various school operators and districts; and
  • Provide recommendations on how to eliminate the barriers to sound financial analysis.

This report takes a comprehensive look at publicly available financial documents for the Recovery School District (RSD), Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB), and a number of individual charter schools. Our findings show that individual school operators and the two school districts in New Orleans face several financial challenges. Based on the information contained in this report, we offer a number of major recommendations including the following:

  • Increasing transparency and financial accountability for school districts and operators;
  • Changing the rules that govern how funds are shared across schools; and
  • Revising budgets to bring revenue and spending into alignment.

The 2009 State of Public Education in Louisiana

Each section of this report can be downloaded separately by clicking on the section title.

Charter Schools in Louisiana

This section is designed to give you a clear picture of charter schools in the state – what they are, their governance structure, location, and student demographics.

Louisiana Public School Funding

This section includes detailed information on the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP), including local and state share and an explanation of the funding structure for public schools.

Recovery School District

This section includes an explanation of the role of the Recovery School District (RSD), as well as its performance in New Orleans.

Louisiana Public School Facilities

This section  includes information on state spending on school facilities, facilities construction expenditures per student, and the state’s school facilities needs.

Louisiana K-12 Education

This section of the report includes information on local and state governance, 2008-09 student demographics, and student enrollment data. It also highlights the organizational structure in Orleans Parish.

Louisiana Public School Performance

This section includes information on school performance scores (SPS), how Louisiana compares to other states and other countries, and information on poverty and student achievement in the state.

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