Last Modified: Monday, July 16, 2012 1:04 PM
A new law that will allow parents to petition the state to take over low-performing schools has local principals and teachers up in arms.
The “parent trigger” law, part of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education reform package, says schools that have received grades of D or F for three consecutive years could face state intervention if parents ask for it.
This could affect as many as 17 schools in Calcasieu Parish — 10 elementary schools, five middle schools and two high schools. The tally is based on 2010-2011 school performance scores and the scores of the two previous school years.
“They are classifying us as failing schools, but we don’t feel like we’re failing,” said Holly Doga, an eighth-grade math teacher at F.K. White Middle School.
“We have to tell the students you are better than they are saying you are. It’s hard. They take it personally, and we do, too,” added Marion Bordelon, an eighth-grade history teacher at F.K. White.
“I think that it is unwarranted. I think that it is casting a bad image on the entire school system, especially the schools that are striving to improve each year,” said Rodney Geyen, principal at Pearl Watson Elementary School. “Any time you show academic growth, that is not a failing school.”
F.K. White is just 0.2 points away from being a C school, and Pearl Watson Elementary has grown by more than 20 points in the past two school years, but is still in the D range by three points.
Not taking student growth and other factors into account is a major flaw of the program, according Calcasieu educators at D schools.
“We have a lot of transient students at our schools, and they don’t always come to us with everything they need. So sometimes we have to go back and reteach and start over with those kids,” said Phyllis Godfrey, the administrative intern at T.H. Watkins Elementary School.
“Even in doing that, it doesn’t allow us to progress as far as we could if we had a stationary group of kids.”
“There has to be some kind of system put into place where you acknowledge where a child starts at and where that child ends,” said Brent Washington, principal at Brentwood Elementary.
“Every principal that’s been at challenging schools, that has been at B schools, A schools, C schools, they would tell you there’s a difference. You all have problems, but the problems are different. At a D school you have to worry about being under the microscope, about how the newspaper is going to portray you as a failing school, what teachers are going to transfer out, what students will actually show up. You don’t have data from the previous year that tells you where you will start from in the fall because you will probably have all new kids.”
“Education has got to be the priority. When a child comes hungry and the last meal that child has is the lunch at school and doesn’t have another one until breakfast the next morning, education is not a priority,” said Kay Victorian, principal at T.H. Watkins Elementary.
Parents who want to use the “parent trigger” will have to band together and collect signatures from 50 percent of the parents or legal guardians of students attending the school, plus one more signature, and submit the petition to the Education Department.
If parents acquire the signatures, the school will be removed from the jurisdiction of the local school board and be placed into the Recovery School District. It would then be either operated by the RSD or become a Type 5 charter school.
“I would venture to tell you that if parents were that organized, that school would not be a D school,” Washington said. “There is a hype that’s going, and the sad thing about it is that the only people being hurt are children.”
According to Vicky Johnston, a second-grade teacher at LeBleu Settlement Elementary, there is no data to prove that a move to the RSD would improve a child’s education or test scores.
“Our highest D school, which is F.K. White, is more than 20 points higher than the highest school in the Recovery School District in Baton Rouge,” Johnston said.
But Stacy Dellafosse, a lead teacher at Barbe Elementary School, said a lack of proof doesn’t change the projected image of charter schools and state-run organizations.
“They’ve blown up the image so much to where parents are attracted to it (charter and state-run schools). It’s blown up to where it always looks like it’s a better school,” Dellafosse said.
Geyen said he intends to combat the negative image of his school by opening it up to parents and the public.
“We welcome everyone that wants to see the school. We will have an open-door policy. We are going to change this image,” he said.
He encourages all D schools to do the same.
“You’ve got to be the No. 1 PR person for your school,” Washington said. “It’s going to be imperative as this is implemented.”
The state Department of Education said the policy will go into effect in October.
Posted By: local parent On: 7/16/2012
Title: another form of segregation
The kids of today are different...their in a technology age..not all kids learn the same....pay attention to ea individual child....stop putting all kids in the same square box....rules n regs are from way bk,no improvement,.no up grade....everyone pointing the finger.......GOVERNMENT can't run government let alone these failing schools....10 outa 10 their kids haven't been in general population nor have gone to a failing school.....its just another form of segregation!...Charter vs public.......all that money,construction,technology,mandatory parent involvement SHOULD B REQUIRED IN ALL SCHOOLS!...........hopefully,before signing a petition,parents take a look around them.n ask themselves have I done all u can do...........all political BS......WHO ELECTS THESE FOLKS?
Posted By: Jim On: 7/16/2012
Title: Thank you for the Invitation
Thank you for the inviation Vicky, and I would certainly welcome the opportunity to come to any of the schools in question in order to ascertain an accurate assessment of the issues related to the subject matter. In fact, I believe the State and local school board should be evlauated frequently by a board of unbiased educators and parents who report publicly on the current "notable" improvements in the school(s), as well as the past issues.
Please let me know what dates in August, or any time during the school year, work best for Mr. Washington, Mr. Geyen, or others whom would like to have parents "involved" in the assessment of their school programs.
Thank you again for the invitation Vicky, and thank you for your input.
Posted By: Vicky On: 7/15/2012
When school starts in August, go spend a week with Mr. Washington at Brentwood or Mr. Geyen at Peart Watson. Then retread your post and see if you still agree with your statements. You will agree with one....it's all about the CHILDREN.
Posted By: Jim McCartney On: 7/15/2012
Title: Stop With The Excuses
As in all siutations where a negative light is cast, the first thing that comes through are the excuses from those who feel accused. There is much to be said on this subject, however I'll respond with only two short statements.
(1) The RSD Program is a political joke, which has no other benefit other than to transfer some sort of notional power to state heads. Fact is, if the same people are in charge at the state level--and the same problems still exist; how are the problems with the schools going to be resolved? So far they're not--and they haven't been.
As with what we're seeing at the Federal level these days; they can't clean their own house, but they (the Federal--and the State) are going to show us how to clean our's.
(2) Not changing the leadership at the local level invokes the same principle as that of the higher level. The same Principals--and the same teachers are in their SAME position at the schools that have been failing. And if they're allowed to stay in these positions, how are things going to change (e.g. scores improve)? Answer - They will not!
STOP making excuses that it's the parents' fault, it's the teacher's, principals', etcc...etc...... YES, we know that raising a child (i.e. discipline, love, training, etc...etc...) all starts at home--and has to be continuous within and from the home. But; when the education system elects to remove or "water down" the discipline at the school level, then the failure of the student and the failure of the school is attributable to only one entity; the educational system.
Furthremore, educators (e.g. teachers, principals, etc..) who leave one school for another are just like anyone else who quits a job. They may indeed like what they're doing at the time (i.e. their job), but it's not the job (e.g. the school / teacihing) they're leaving; it's the management!
Now, here are two extreme questions for all to ponder:
Is the predictament that the U.S. Economy is in caused by former students (i.e. Leaders, Congressmen, Senators, etc..) who were from A, B or C schools; or by those from D or F schools? Answer - Graduates from Harvard, Yale, Standford, etc...etc....! Because they're all geniuses, right? Wrong......................
Has the welfare system reached it's peak and beyond by former students (i.e. Leaders, Congressmen, Senators, etc..) who were from A, B or C schools; or by those from D or F schools? Sterotypically, society would say for the most par that it's from former D or F students. However, statistics show that it's a mixture of all scores, but mostly C, D and F students. And again, who do these individuals blame for the problems with the U.S. Economy and everything else? Answer once again - They blame each other and still don't work together to fix the problem. Sound familiar, AGAIN?
So what does the Federal and State Government threaten to do each time they see something failing in a particular area? Answer - They take it over and place it under some "recovery" plan or program. By the way, these program generally don't work either because the leadership (aka :oversight) was not changed.
Stop with the excuses, and start working together to fix the problem(s). Otherwise, the only thing that we'll probably all continue to agree on is that in the end, the ones who are really hurt is the CHILDREN.