Last Modified: Friday, September 21, 2012 6:57 PM
Monday night’s public forum on improving education in Calcasieu Parish education is what we hope is the beginning of a dialogue on a vital issue in our area.
The forum, scheduled for 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Lake Charles Civic Center’s Lafitte Room, has been arranged by Louisiana Progress and is co-sponsored by the American Press and the City of Lake Charles.
The invited panel — Calcasieu Parish School Superintendent Wayne Savoy, Calcasieu Parish School Board President R.L. Webb, Seventh District Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member Holly Boffy, state Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Lake Charles Kimberlee Gazzolo, President of the Lake Charles Charter School Judge Gene Thibodeaux, Oak Park Middle School Principal Martin Guillory and teacher Teri Johnson — offer a wide array of education experiences and viewpoints.
The mission of Louisiana Progress,a non-profit organization, is to inform, engage, and mobilize Louisiana residents to move the state forward.
In July, it sponsored education forums in Shreveport, Monroe and Lafayette and has one planned in Baton Rouge for later this month.
‘‘Our goal is to frame the issues, outline the challenges, identify the players, and discuss next steps for collaboration and community engagement,’’ says Melissa Flournoy, director of Louisiana Progress. ‘‘We hope that a few organizations may emerge as natural leaders to continue the dialogue on education policy reform and implementation.’’
Flournoy said the forum’s goal is to frame a discussion that can be thoughtful, thorough and constructive based on data and best practices. The American Press agreed to co-sponsor the forum because education is such a vital component in training a reliable, compentent workforce and qualify of life issues in our area. We believe such a forum is an extension of our popular Sunday Letters to the Editor page, the best forum for reasoned opinions offered by any media in Southwest Louisiana.
There are a number of issues of concern: state reforms regarding vouchers, teachers’ evaluation and teachers’ tenure, lack of parental/guardian involvement in students’ education and low-performing schools. With 31 percent of Calcasieu Parish schools earning a grade of D or D-minus last year, improving those schools is a pressing issue.
Hence, there’s much to discuss tomorrow night. We hope Calcasieu Parish residents will embrace the forum, attend and ask questions and offer solutions to the challenges that face primary and second education in our parish.
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, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.