‘Simple but better approach’
Bruchhaus discusses challenges facing ‘struggling’ schools
<p class="p1">The Lake Charles branch of the NAACP hosted its first “What’s Going On In Calcasieu Parish Schools” forum featuring Superintendent Karl Bruchhaus on Monday. The Rev. J. L. Franklin, chapter president, designed the forum to be an “open dialogue” between the superintendent and members of the community.
<p class="p1">Bruchhaus began the forum with a three-part presentation concerning school accountability, current district initiatives and continuing challenges facing the district.
<p class="p1">He provided structure and definition to the factors that contribute to school and student performance. He addressed school letter grades and state mandated testing. For students in grade 3-8 taking the LEAP 2025, he said the state is actively “raising the bar,” noting that “mastery” level performance is the new standard for success.
<p class="p1">The current initiative he focused the most on during the forum was a “simple but better approach” concerning the 13 CPSB schools that have been deemed by the Louisiana State Department of Education as “persistently struggling.” Bruchhaus said that focusing on core subject literacy and teacher/leader development is a major part of the “simple” approach.
<p class="p1">Lack of certified teachers and literacy problems are two continuing challenges for the district. Bruchhaus said CPSB hires about 150 teachers a year but in the past five years McNeese State University has graduated fewer and fewer teachers. He said the spring graduation shows only 45 teachers entering the workforce.
<p class="p1">In addition to the higher standards on state testing, the language of the test has changed considerably. Now students who struggle to read have difficulties not only on the english portion of the test but also on the math, science and social studies portions because reading is embedded into all of the subjects, said Bruchhaus.
<p class="p1">At the close of his presentation, questions were taken from the audience. Audible sounds of agreement could be heard when Rev. Franklin asked Bruchhaus, “Why aren’t the strongest teachers going to the weakest schools?” Bruchhaus referenced his earlier comments about actively working to employ certified teachers. Applause erupted concerning desegregation when Bruchhaus said the district is not yet “unitary.” Though all students are offered similar educational opportunities, Bruchhaus said, they are often seen as inconvenient because of course locations. “Amens” were heard throughout the church when Bruchhaus acknowledged discipline as an issue of concern for the district. He agreed that keeping students out of school isn’t the best answer but admitted, “I can’t tell you we have the answer.” Bruchhaus called on the community to partner with families and schools saying, “It’s not up to just the teacher!”
<p class="p1">When questioned about the validity and potential success of his plans Bruchhaus said, “We have to have faith in our children. As long as I’m in this profession, I’m not going to lose that faith and I don’t want you to either.”
<p class="p1">A guest of the forum said that while she was pleased with the efforts of the district, “They’re not in the miracle working business. The whole community has to be on board.” Another guest added, “Yes, they can implement it, but it takes everyone to carry it out.”