The Orleans Parish School Board partners With The National League of Cities to Strengthen Early Childhood Education

February 8, 2019

New initiative is part of a national effort to prioritize and build a stronger early education system for young children

NEW ORLEANS – (Feb. 8, 2019) – The Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB), in partnership with the City of New Orleans, National League of Cities (NLC) and the New Orleans Early Education Network, announced an initiative to create a shared action plan for increasing funding, quality and access to early childhood education. Through this work, New Orleans will join National League of Cities’ City Leadership for Building an Early Learning Nation, an eight-city technical assistance cohort.

“New Orleans’ young people hold incredible promise,” said Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr. “As lifelong educators, we know their potential is limitless, but many of our kids are starting kindergarten already behind. This partnership is vital to achieving our goal to expand access to early childhood education and get our students well prepared for their future.”

OPSB’s first step to achieving this goal was the creation of the Early Childhood Working Group which was a collection of local leaders, educators and thinkers in our city. The group was established to research and provide recommendations to the board regarding the strategy of expanding access to best early childhood education to New Orleans children and families. This initiative will help the OPSB continue its commitment to early childhood education.

Additionally, the Louisiana Department of Education also announced the approval of a new plan known as “LA B to 3” which will be geared toward addressing affordable child care for children in need, especially children birth to age 3. According to the state, the plan will serve all children on the current Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) waitlist and help strengthen resources for all families with young children.

The city of New Orleans was chosen by the NLC for its community-wide commitment to prioritizing early learning and the well-being of children, and their history of work focused on serving families and children. The OPSB and city officials will utilize NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education and Families (YEF Institute) Early Learning Communities Action Guide and Progress Rating Tool to assess their progress and develop action plans to move the city’s early education system forward. The technical assistance program also provides further guidance from both peer cities and national experts.

The YEF Institute believes that cities are centers of innovation in establishing policy and program supports for young children across the country. The work of these eight cities pushes the United States forward in becoming a country where all cities, towns and villages are places where children have the resources to reach their full potential and where families feel supported and can live safe, healthy lives.

This initiative is generously supported by the Bezos Family Foundation and is part of the Bezos Family Foundation’s vision to create an Early Learning Nation by 2025. The cohort builds on previous work within the YEF Institute to strengthen and build local early learning systems In addition to New Orleans, the other cities receiving technical assistance from NLC include Brownsville, Tennessee; Hopewell, Virginia; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Sacramento, California; San Pablo, California; Walla Walla, Washington; Waterbury, Connecticut and a special cohort of small communities from Nebraska working with Nebraska Children and Families Foundation.

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The National League of Cities is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans. The Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, a special entity within the National League of Cities, helps municipal leaders take action on behalf of the children, youth, and families in their communities.

The OPSB currently oversees 78 public schools, including 75 charter schools, two direct-operated schools and a school with two educational programs for students in secure-care facilities. On July 1, all New Orleans public schools were unified under the oversight of the locally-elected Orleans Parish School Board for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. Learn more about Unification here.

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