Louisiana is last in nearly everything good. Education is no exception. Our children deserve the best education we can provide. Why is The Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) against high standards? Their own strategic plan says “Students will benefit by being afforded an equal opportunity to develop to their full potential and graduate college and career ready.” Perhaps they think lowering standards to make schools look better is more important than actually doing better for students.
Louisiana Schools are Failing
The 2021 Louisiana Department of Education performance scores show a large list of schools in need of Intervention. Most of those were classified as urgent intervention required. There is a disclaimer that explains these scores are pre-Covid, as they chose not to score them during Covid.
Important information about this file: Due to the impact of COVID-19 on school closures, official school performance scores and letter grades were not produced for the 2020-2021 school year. On October 20, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education approved a waiver request by the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) waiving most accountability requirements for the 2020-2021 school year. As part of that waiver, the U.S. Department of Education required the LDOE to maintain the existing list of schools in need of intervention from the 2019 release. As such, schools have not exited or entered intervention status from the 2019 release, and this file uses 2018-2019 school year data as the most recent year of data.
What if We Don’t Want to Send Our Children to Failing Schools?
Louisiana has a school of choice program that allows parents to enroll their children in a public school of their choice if the following apply:
- The public school in which the student was most recently enrolled, or would otherwise attend, received a school performance letter grade of “D” or “F” for the most recent school year.
- The school in which the student seeks to enroll received a school performance letter grade of “A”, “B”, or “C” for the most recent school year and has sufficient capacity at the appropriate grade level. School and grade level capacity are determined by Local Educational Authorities (LEAs).
- The transfer does not violate the order of a court of competent jurisdiction.
However, transfer requests can be denied. You read that right. The system that may be failing students (but has an artificially high score) gets to decide if the student can go elsewhere for a better education. There is an appeal process in which BESE gets the final say.
This Doesn’t Sound Like Much of a Choice
While other states pass school choice legislation, Louisiana clings to the broken system it has in place. Fearmongering is used to make people think it will infringe on homeschool rights. Louisiana Governor, John Bel Edwards, said school choice was unfair. Oddly enough, 2022’s school choice legislation was bipartisan. Representative Jason Hughes gave a powerful speech about it.
— Jamie Marie Pope (@JamieMariePope) April 23, 2022
But the Schools Have Good Ratings
Although 70% of high schools are rated A and B by the state, only 41% of K-8 schools are rated as high. These ratings are dishonest. In an effort to address our failing system, Superintendent Cade Brumley tried to raise our standards and improve education outcomes for Louisiana students.
To maintain appearances, superintendents across the state would rather keep lower standards than for the public to know the real rating of Louisiana schools. Fake high scores may make superintendents feel good, but they certainly do not help ensure a good education for students.
Patrick Jenkins, chairman of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, noted that the proposal was also opposed by the Louisiana School Boards Association, the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Educators.
The Vote to Raise Standards Fails
The vote for raising school standards was 3 in favor (Ashley Ellis, of Monroe; Jim Garvey, of Metairie; and Kira Orange Jones, of New Orleans) and 8 against (Holly Boffy, of Lafayette; Doris Voitier, of Metairie; Preston Castille, of Baton Rouge; Belinda Davis, of Baton Rouge; Sandy Holloway, of Thibodaux; Michael Melerine, of Shreveport; Ronnie Morris, of Baton Rouge; and Thomas Roque, of Alexandria). If the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents has all the say, is BESE even necessary? Perhaps the fix would be less government involvement.
“Keep doing what you’re doing.”
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