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Editorial: Parents, guardians must be part of solution for struggling schools

Last Modified: Wednesday, March 06, 2013 6:12 PM

While some public school officials and teachers continue to celebrate Monday’s court ruling that labeled a major plank in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education reform unconstitutional, there’s this sobering news: Nearly one in every 10 public schools in Louisiana has a grade of F.

Many public school teachers rejoiced over state District Judge R. Michael Caldwell’s that, for the time being, stymied the governor’s move to dramatically change how public school teachers acquire tenure and how those teachers are evaluated.

Caldwell said that there were too many subjects in the education reform package, making in unconstitutional. The governor said his administration would appeal to the state Supreme Court.

This latest dust-up does not cloud the fact that the state has far too many failing schools, judged in large part by students’ performances on standardized tests. According to state Superintendent of Education John White, that means 63,000 students are attending failing schools.

‘‘We have got to eliminate F-rated schools in our state,’’ said White.

According to the state Department of Education, nearly 33 percent of all the failing schools come from three districts — Caddo, East Baton Rouge and Jefferson.

The Calcasieu Parish School System had three schools that were assigned an ‘‘F’’ for the 2011-2012 school year, Molo and Reynaud middle schools and John J. Johnson Elementary School. Fifteen other schools in the 57-school system earned a ‘‘D’’ grade.

White said improving the under-performing schools will require innovation. He noted, though, that creativity will have to be initiated without additional funding from the state.

While school districts, school boards, superintendents and classroom teachers bear the major responsibility, it is not their problem alone to solve.

Failing schools affect the entire community and hence it will take the entire community to fix them. Public/private partnerships have shown promise in providing schools additional support and resources.

Somehow, someway parents and guardians have to be part of the solution for struggling schools’ issues and no longer part of the problem.

State Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, said it has taken generations to get into predicament, hence, there will be no quick cures.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean the plight of students in low-achieving schools should be ignored. While it may take longer to correct the issue than anyone would like, these failing schools have to become a top priority not just for the educators, but for everyone in the community.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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