[StBernard] Certified Teachers Encouraged to Join in Recovery and Rebirth of New Orleans Schools

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Mon Aug 28 21:01:41 EDT 2006

BATON ROUGE, La. (August 28, 2006) - The Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) today announced it is joining efforts with the Louisiana Department of Education's Recovery School District (RSD), and the non-profit organization New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) to recruit certified and highly qualified teachers to K-12 schools in New Orleans for the historic 2006- 2007 school year.

"Hurricane Katrina displaced thousands of families around the country, but as the pace of recovery quickens and signs of progress become more and more evident, they are moving back," said Dr. Norman C. Francis, LRA Chairman and President of Xavier University. "As a result, the demand for teachers has grown tremendously and is expected to continue growing as more and more students return. Finding the best and brightest teachers-those who are new and displaced-is an integral part of the continued recovery and rebirth of the New Orleans school system."

In New Orleans, as in many other districts nationwide, there is a need for highly specialized teachers for the coming school year. Especially needed are certified high school math, science, foreign language and special education teachers. Nearly 200 teachers are needed to accommodate students enrolling in state-run RSD schools, most of which will welcome students on Sept. 7. Charter schools in the Greater New Orleans area are also working to bring on an additional 60 teachers.

"Louisiana has embarked on one of the most ambitious recovery and rebuilding efforts in history, so teachers coming to New Orleans can expect to find the challenge and opportunity of a lifetime," said State Superintendent of Education Cecil Picard. "While the work will be difficult and require extraordinary perseverance, skills, and talent, the educators leading this monumental effort will become pioneers, as we are creating a road map for the development of 21st century schools in America."

Last August, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans' educational system, damaging or destroying roughly 100 school buildings and initially displacing 65,000 students and 7,000 teachers. Calling this a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for change," Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and the LRA endorsed legislation passed by the Louisiana Legislature to expand the RSD, which allowed the state to take over 107 low-performing schools, in addition to the five it controlled before Katrina. The RSD now has authority over 112 of the 128 public schools in Orleans Parish.

By September, roughly 53 public schools will re-open in New Orleans to accommodate an estimated enrollment of 22,000 students. As more and more families return throughout the fall, student enrollment is projected to grow to 34,000 by January 2007.

Seventeen of these schools will be operated directly by the RSD. Five will be operated directly by the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB), and 31 will be operated by various charter associations. With roughly 62% of its public schools being operated through charters, New Orleans has become the largest charter-school city in the U.S.

The RSD is accepting teacher applications online at www.teachlouisiana.net. Over the next two weeks, the RSD will also provide opportunities for teachers to take skills tests, a preliminary assessment for employment. Beginning Monday, August 28 through Friday September 8, teachers can go to Joseph S. Clark High School, which is located at 1301 N Derbigny Street in New Orleans. Tests are given once daily, beginning at 8:30 am. Additionally, the RSD will have personnel representatives present each day to pass out and pick up employment packets to expedite the hiring process.

NSNO is also interviewing teacher applicants for charter school positions. Teachers interested in applying to teach in New Orleans charter schools can apply online at www.teachnola.org. Teachers that have no preference for which type of school they would like to teach in are encouraged to apply to both Web sites.

New and displaced teachers are encouraged to apply. Teaching applicants in K-12 schools in Louisiana who are certified in another state can teach in Louisiana with an "out of state certification," which is valid for three years.

Specific subject areas that have the highest teacher demand include:

* Special education teachers, all grades;
* High school math and science teachers;
* High school foreign language teachers.

"While many certified teachers have already been brought on board, we are encouraging more to apply," said RSD Superintendent Robin Jarvis. "We are working around the clock to ensure that every child who returns has the opportunity to experience a world-class public education system-and you can't have great schools without great teachers. If you are a motivated, dedicated educator, and you want to make a tremendous difference in the lives of children that need it the most, we need you."

"Research shows that teachers are the single most influential factor in determining students' academic success-it's as simple as that," said Linda Johnson, president of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and a member of the LRA. "As we strive to re-build schools, and create safe, clean, academically challenging environments for every returning student, it is critical that we also have a legion of highly-qualified teachers who can lead in the classrooms."

"Schools are being dramatically improved-academically, financially and physically-but recruiting qualified teachers is a key part of the equation," said Sarah Usdin, NSNO founder. "This new educational landscape for a post-Katrina world demands the talent and resources of the best teachers who may have been displaced from Louisiana and from across the nation."

Earlier this month, the LRA also partnered with the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) to provide all teachers visiting New Orleans to interview for teaching positions free hotel rooms during their stay. Hotels providing rooms include New Orleans Marriott, JW Marriott New Orleans, Drury Inn & Suites, Chateau Sonesta Hotel, the Terrell House Bed and Breakfast, the Renaissance Arts Hotel & Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel, and the Hilton Hotel.

More information on RSD's hiring process is available at www.teachlouisiana.net. Additional information about the application process for charter schools is available at www.teachnola.org.


Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated South Louisiana, destroying more than 200,000 homes and 18,000 businesses. The Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) is the planning and coordinating body that was created in the aftermath of these storms by Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco to lead one of the most extensive rebuilding efforts in the world. The LRA is a 33-member body which is coordinating across jurisdictions, supporting community recovery and resurgence, ensuring integrity and effectiveness, and planning for the recovery and rebuilding of Louisiana.

New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) is a newly-created, non-profit organization dedicated to the progressive transformation of public schools in New Orleans. Beginning with the 2006-2007 school year, NSNO is committed to assisting schools by providing recruitment and screening of teachers, business and operational assistance, and board governance training.

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