State Legislators Troy Brown and Randal Gaines announce support of Kira Orange Jones

October 7, 2015—NEW ORLEANS—State Senator Troy Brown and State Representative Randal Gaines join a growing list of River Parish leaders who have announced their support for Kira Orange Jones for the District 2 seat on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Jones’ other supporters include St. John Parish School Board Member Russell Jack, St. John Parish School Board Member Keith Joseph and St. James Parish School Board Member Tyler Jasmine. “More students are graduating and earning TOPS, test scores are up—the positive results are an undeniable testament to Kira’s work for our schools,” said State Senator Troy Brown, “Kira inspires those around her to continuously try harder to build the strongest education system possible. Her commitment and dedication are empowering, and we can’t afford to lose her talents on BESE,” said State Representative Randel Gaines. After obtaining a master’s degree in education, Kira became a 4th grade teacher and then an educational leader who supports more than 1,000 teachers as an administrator. She was first elected to BESE in 2011. BESE District 2 includes the east and west banks of New Orleans, the west bank of Jefferson, and St. Charles, St. John, St. James and Assumption parishes. Early voting starts this Saturday the 10 and runs through the 17th. The primary will be Oct. 24, 2015. Download...

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Kira Orange Jones picks up four major endorsements

October 5, 2015—NEW ORLEANS – Gambit, Alliance for Good Government, Democrats for Education Reform and Stand for Children have endorsed Kira Orange Jones for the District 2 seat on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). “I am very honored to have been given the support of these organizations,” said Kira Orange Jones. “Four years ago I ran committed to providing each and every student with an excellent education. Our students and teachers have made real academic improvements since then, and it is nice to have that progress validated by being entrusted with the support of these organizations. We have made a lot of progress, but there is still more to do. We can’t rest until every child has access to an excellent education. That has been and will continue to be my life’s mission.” After obtaining a master’s degree in education, Kira became a 4th grade teacher and then an educational leader who supports more than 1,000 teachers as an administrator. She was first elected to BESE in 2011. BESE District 2 includes the east and west banks of New Orleans, the west bank of Jefferson, and St. Charles, St. John, St. James and Assumption parishes. The primary election is Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. Download...

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Kira Orange Jones picks up two major endorsements

September 4, 2015—Former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu and New Orleans City Councilmember-­At-­Large Jason Williams endorse Kira Orange Jones for District 2 seat on Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. “Kira Orange Jones is a great education leader for our region and state because she keeps her focus on what is best for each and every child,” said Former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu. “As a former teacher and current non-­profit leader she brings an important perspective to BESE. Our schools are improving significantly because of her leadership.” Kira has emphasized academic improvement for all children and her efforts on BESE have been particularly focused on improvements for African Americans. In New Orleans, historically one of the lowest performing districts, African American students have shown steady progress. “Education is critical for the youth of our city, especially young black men.   Providing them with a great education will open new opportunities, changing their lives and our community,” said Councilmember-­At-­Large Jason Williams. “Kira has worked on BESE to get us moving in the right direction. In New Orleans the black male graduation rate is now above state and national averages and suspensions and expulsions are down, but there is a lot more to be done and we need Kira to continue fighting for us on BESE.” First elected to BESE in 2011, Kira earned a Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in education from Harvard. She started with Teach for America as a 4th grade teacher in Baton Rouge and now serves as its Executive Director. BESE District 2 includes the east and west banks of New Orleans, the West Bank of Jefferson, and St. Charles, St. John, St. James and Assumption parishes. The primary will be Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. Download...

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Kira Orange Jones to run for re-­election to Board of Secondary and Elementary Education (BESE)

Tuesday September 1, 2015—Kira Orange-­Jones announced her candidacy for re-­election to the District 2 seat on Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. As someone who experienced first hand how education can change lives—having gone from an inner-­city school to a masters degree from Harvard and a career as an educator, to most recently being featured in Time Magazine—on BESE, Kira has focused on increasing achievement for all students. “I know the challenges and heartbreaking statistics for students of color trying to compete on an educational playing field that is not level,” said Jones. “For our children and our society, we must provide an opportunity for an excellent education to every child. That has been and will continue to be my life’s mission.” Jones pointed to Advanced Placement as a prime example. Louisiana led the nation in the percentage increase of students earning AP college credit, and the percent of the state’s African American students attaining qualifying high scores increased by 89%. Other statewide achievements listed include improved graduation rates, more students eligible for TOPS scholarships and a decrease in the number of student suspensions and expulsions. In New Orleans, historically one of the lowest performing districts, failing schools have dramatically decreased from 117 in 2004 to only 8 in 2014 and graduation rates have increased by 25% from 2008 to 2014, with the city’s black male graduation rate now exceeding both state and national averages. As a former teacher and now a Teach For America executive director impacting thousands of teachers and former teachers, Jones is quick to give credit where she thinks it belongs as she said: “On BESE we set educational policy. It is the dedicated teachers and principals that are in the schools and classrooms every day that implement these policies and deserve the thanks of everyone in this State. I see my job on BESE as supporting front line educators so our children can achieve their full potential.” Kira earned a Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in education from Harvard. She started with Teach for America as a 4th grade teacher in Baton Rouge and now serves as its Executive Director. BESE District 2 includes the east and west banks of New Orleans, the West Bank of Jefferson, and St. Charles, St. John, St. James and Assumption parishes. The primary will be Oct. 24, 2015. Download...

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ACT scores rise for 2nd straight year in Louisiana

The Times-Picayune, July 16, 2015—ACT scores slightly improved this year in Louisiana public schools, marking the second straight year of performance growth. On average, Louisiana students scored a 19.4 on the 36-point scale, up 0.2 from last year, according to data released Thursday (July 16). Last year’s score was up from the previous year’s 19.1. The slow-but-steady progress shows a state push toward higher expectations has paid off, state Education Superintendent John White said. “It reflects the extraordinary teaching and learning that has gone on in our schools,” White added. The ACT, one of two nationally used college-entrance and scholarship exams, is a big deal in Louisiana. All public high school students must take it, and they receive TOPS college scholarships to in-state schools based in part on their scores. Schools, too, are judged partly by ACT scores. Importantly, the test is a way to rank Louisiana’s students against the rest of the country. Historically, the state has lagged the national ACT average, and last year was no different — Louisiana’s 19.2 lagged the nation’s 21. Though this year’s national scores have yet to be released, White said he’s confident Louisiana is making strides. “I think you are going to see our state really rising up and competing with [other] states,” he said. More students earn college-going scores Just as colleges do, the state calculates composite scores using the best scores students receive, no matter how often students take tests. In Louisiana, a score of 17 or higher ensures two free years of community college through the state’s TOPS program, though a student must score an 18 to avoid remedial classes. A score of 20 or better lands a four-year college scholarship. This year, 39,752 Louisiana seniors took the ACT, slightly down from last year’s 39,773. Of those: Almost two-thirds scored an 18 or above. About 45 percent scored a 20 or better. The state also released number increases, which show gains or declines in students achieving certain scores over time. When comparing the 2014-15 school year to the 2011-12 academic year, 6,312 more students received an 18 or better this year, data show. Officials attributed the performance gains to raised expectations for English and mathematics — Louisiana adopted the Common Core state standards in 2010 — the overhaul of the state’s accountability system, expansion of Advanced Placement courses and the state’s Jump Start career education program. “By providing access to more rigorous courses and tests for all students, we are seeing achievement increase across the board,” White said. “Our state needs to keep raising its expectations if we expect to compete.” Some of the jump may be attributed to an increase in test-takers during some testing years. Still, the number gains are something to be proud of, White has said. African-American students have particularly made gains, he noted, with 7,287 earning an 18 or better, up from 5,202 three years ago. Louisiana students meeting...

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