Jess Clark

Education Desk Reporter

Jess Clark is WWNO's Education Desk reporter. Jess comes to the station after two years as Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting for North Carolina Public Radio - WUNC (Chapel Hill). Her reporting has aired on national programs, including NPR's All Things ConsideredHere & Now from WBURand NPR's Weekend Edition

Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Jess graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015 with a master's in Journalism and Mass Communication.

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U.S. Marshalls escort Ruby Bridges to integrate William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans in 1960.
United States Government

When Americans are taught the story of school desegregation, they learn about the 1954 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. The Board of Education. But much of the work of desegregation happened outside the courtroom. Black children, some as young as six, put their bodies on the line every time they entered a white school, and nearly all of them were girls.

George Washington Carver High School class of 2018 files in for their graduation ceremony.
Jess Clark / WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

At the end of George Washington Carver High School's graduation ceremony held at Xavier University at the end of May, hundreds of graduates in their white caps and gowns flood out of the auditorium to meet their families. The Carver band is playing. Girls are pulling off their high heels and unzipping their robes so they can really break it down.

Cypress Academy leaders shocked parents when they announced three days before the end of the school year that they won't be reopening in the fall.
Jess Clark / WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

New Orleans charter school Cypress Academy may not close after all. On Tuesday afternoon, the Orleans Parish School Board announced it plans to take over operations at Cypress so the school can remain open for the 2018-2019 school year. The news follows parent outrage after Cypress gave parents three days notice the school would be closing at the end of this school year.

Cypress Academy leaders shocked parents when they announced three days before the end of the school year that they won't be reopening in the fall.
Jess Clark / WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

On Sunday night, just three days before the end of the school year, Jenny Schecter got a text from a friend saying their kids' charter school, Cypress Academy, was closing.

"My husband and I opened up the computer, read the email, and I just immediately started crying," Schecter said. 

Race and Education in New Orleans traces the history of education back to 1764.
Courtesy of Walter C. Stern

When talking about the history of education in this New Orleans, school reformers often point to the problems in the school system in the decades before Hurricane Katrina: financial mismanagement, corruption and abysmal graduation rates. But one education researcher has recently written a book taking a longer view. 

The state's high school graduation rate rose to 78 percent. New Orleans area schools have a 72 percent graduation rate.
Wikimedia Commons

The state's high school graduation rate is the highest it’s ever been, according to new data released by the Louisiana Department of Education. The class of 2017 - seniors who graduated last year - had a 78.1 percent graduation rate, up from 77 percent for the class of 2016. But schools in the New Orleans area still lag behind.

Accordion maker Pennye Huval owns and runs Martin's Cajun Accordions with her father in Lafayette Parish.
Jess Clark / WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

Visitors to Jazz Fest will not only find Louisiana music and food, but also expert Louisiana craftsmen and women. Accordion makers Clarence Martin Junior and Pennye Huval came to the Jazz Fest craft tent to show off their talents. The father and daughter own an Martin Cajun Accordions, an accordion shop in Lafayette Parish.

Einstein parent Yanys Rozhez missed work to drive his son to a safer bus stop.
Jess Clark / WWNO

The battle between Einstein Charter Schools and the Orleans Parish School Board over getting kids to school appeared to be over when yellow buses started running last week.

But for families who must navigate bus stops along busy roads in eastern New Orleans, the journey isn’t over. As WWNO reports in collaboration with The Lens, parents say buses stop at inconvenient locations that are dangerous to get to.  

OPSB has begun the process of revoking Einstein Charter Schools' right to run two elementary schools.
Jess Clark / WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

The Orleans Parish School Board has settled a months-long dispute with Einstein Charter Schools over busing.

Results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as "The National's Report Card," show Louisiana student achievement dropping over the last two years. Every two years, the U.S. Department of Education tests a nationally representative group of fourth and eighth grade students in math and reading.

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