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BESE members tour four Southwest Louisiana schools

Last Modified: Tuesday, November 05, 2013 9:22 PM

By Lance Traweek / American Press

Two members of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on Tuesday visited four Calcasieu Parish schools — part of a statewide tour of districts to get direct feedback from educators.

BESE President Chas Roemer and member Holly Boffy met with teachers at St. John Elementary, Maplewood Middle, John F. Kennedy Elementary and Sam Houston High.

At Sam Houston High, board members heard from educators who teach an array of subjects.

“We want to get out into the districts and understand what the challenges are,” Boffy told the teachers.

In reference to Common Core, one teacher said there are some good elements but that the problem is that there is a cost to the below-average student. She said the state standards are too broad and have brought teachers’ morale down.

She added that she’s willing to accept change if she is given some kind of focus.

“We are looking at policies in December about how we can back off in terms of what we expect from students in terms of their performance and what we expect from teachers in terms of their performance,” Boffy said.

Boffy said the resources are not there yet but are coming down the line.

“The home base you get to will be the nicest home base you’ve ever had as an educator,” she said.

Another teacher mentioned that the new teacher evaluations are unfair and do not reflect educators’ accomplishments. A teacher said she is being judged with full implementation, but that the reform hasn’t been fully implemented.

Roemer said only time will heal those issues.

“We want you to embrace the standards,” Roemer said. “Every time you implement something you discover ways to make it better.”

Roemer said that if the state waited to be 100 percent ready, improvements would never come.

“Our teachers are interested in how we’re going to make sure our policies give them the space they need to implement the standards,” Boffy said after meeting with teachers at Sam Houston. “We’ll continue looking at our student promotion policies, teacher evaluation policies, and the way we assess our schools and districts.”

Roemer said that generally the day was positive and that visiting with teachers helps the board write better policies.

“Most educators we’ve met with embrace more rigor and higher standards,” he said after the tour. “Most are in support of the idea of improvements in the state, but (the teachers) want to make sure they’re treated fairly along the way.”

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