Tidbits From Today’s Policy Forum

Susan BrennaEveryone got very quiet at a forum on school and community partnerships in New Orleans today when Rickie Nutick, the executive director of Young Audiences of Louisiana, described a Louisiana school district that forbids principals from spending any money on enrichments—like music and art—in schools where kids are failing to reach proficiency in math and English. Her organization’’s solution for a school in that district was to start a dance program for students anyway—meeting on Saturdays.

Now those students have applied themselves so diligently, that they have invitations to perform from as far away as California. And here’’s another note: They’’re doing better academically, too.

Within a day, we’’ll post more comprehensive take-aways from “Re-Inventing Schools: A Policy Forum on Partnerships for School Reform,” co-hosted with our New Orleans intermediary partners, the Partnership for Youth Development. For now, two memorable tidbits:

  • In response to a question about how to engage families, Ron Fairchild of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading described how Habitat for Humanity in Tuscaloosa is building houses with “learning-centered architecture,” including homework nooks with bookshelves. Homeowners can earn sweat equity by having their kids rack up great school attendance and participate in expanded learning opportunities.
  • Korbin Johnson, Principal of KIPP Central Primary School in New Orleans, says he welcomes community partners who bring with them great curriculum in arts and other disciplines because his teachers are maxed out on working on the core subjects. “”There’’s a lot of heavy lifting going on in teaching math and science and social studies, so it’’s a great benefit if an organization brings curriculum.”