ST. HELENA PARISH, La. (BRPROUD) — A statewide virtual press conference held by Louisiana educational leaders representing the small parishes, come together over the consequences of proposed reforms of the School Accountability Systems.
There are more than 700,000 students, divided into 69 public school districts across the state of Louisiana. The president of the Louisiana Association of Educators, as well as other education leaders, says some of these districts feel left out.
“Breaking the spirit of our educators and students, would only be doing nothing but continue a downward spiral,” said President of the Louisiana Association of Educators Tia Mills.
The Superintendent of St. Helena Parish School District, Dr. Kelli Joseph, organized a web conference, to express concerns about the accountability system by the Department of Education.
“You can’t respond by developing an accountability system that is exclusive rather than inclusive,” says Doctor Kelli Joseph. In agreeance, was Superintendent Patrick Jenkins of St. Landry Parish School System.
“We want all of this right, and we stand by a rigorous system,” said Jenkins.
Some administrators say that school districts with more money, that offer more advanced learning classes will get a better rating. Under the current system, a student graduating with a diploma earns a school point, which will affect the letter grade. With the new system proposed, schools will receive zero points for a diploma and students would be encouraged to do more, like taking dual enrollment or AP courses and passing AP exams for the school to earn points.
The proposed reforms, which are being pushed by outside special interest groups, threaten to create inequitable and discriminatory consequences for special populations of students including but not limited to minority, economically disadvantaged, special needs, and non-English speaking students.
Additionally, the reforms are likely to result in discriminatory consequences for less affluent school systems and the devaluing of career education for Louisiana graduates in the Department’s current proposal according to the superintendents.
“High school is about getting our kids prepared for post-secondary opportunities,” said Superintendent Dr. Kelli Joseph of St. Helena Parish Schools.
“To tell that kid, to tell the whole community, that your efforts are worth nothing, it just doesn’t sit well with me or anyone else whose job is to educate children,” said Dr. Joseph.
Dr. Joseph recognizes the hardship of this matter and how unfair this system could affect kids in small and rural parishes.
The superintendents claim that many of their students don’t attend college, but go into the military or straight into the workforce. Superintendent Christy Boyte, of West Carroll Parish School Board, says she wants to see more help coming to smaller districts to keep their graduates in the parish
“Place our occupations in our community, based on the schools that we provide and we would like to see a scale that makes sense,” said Boyte.
The superintendents came up with a different scale, by just making simple changes to the new scale passed by LDOE. The superintendent’s scale, would not judge how college-ready students are or the advanced classes they take, but how well the kids did in their high school classes.
The Superintendent of Jackson Parish, David Claxton is looking forward to the debate with the LDOE. “Basically what we built is the foundation, but we would love to sit at the table with everybody and be able to come up with a proper score,” said Claxton. “We just built the range right now to get this presented.”
The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is hosting a meeting Tuesday, October 11th. To find the meeting agenda, click here.