The Baton Rouge Advocate’s Sept. 25 editorial, “PR additions odd priority,” was unfair and unjustified.
The quality of education in Louisiana will determine our destiny as a state. Sadly, just 19 percent of students who enter ninth grade will earn a bachelor’s degree within a decade. At the same time, half of the jobs that will be available to today’s students will require some education after high school. For our state to succeed in the increasingly dynamic and competitive global economy, our students need to succeed in college and challenging, professional careers.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the constitutionally created body charged with developing and implementing policy to improve K-12 education in Louisiana, has embraced this enormous challenge. Earlier this year, we appointed Superintendent John White to lead the Department of Education in implementing bold reforms that will transform education for the 21st century. He has met the challenge with integrity, energy and a sense of urgency that demonstrates a core belief in the power of education to change the lives of children.
Communicating the changes happening in schools is vital to our success. Louisiana is home to 1 million parents, 700,000 students and 55,000 educators, who deserve accurate and easily‐ understandable information about the impact of policies and programs to students in the classroom. For example, more rigorous common core state standards will demand much more of our students, and parents need to know how to help their children achieve these high expectations for learning. While a greater level of learning is expected of students, parents will also have many more choices for ensuring their child achieves those higher standards. Those options need to be communicated to families.
Raising standards for students also means raising the bar for teachers. That is why it is critically important that teachers and school leaders know how to maximize Compass, the state’s new educator evaluation system. The system focuses on how teachers need to adjust their instruction to help students achieve the more-rigorous standards. Again, communicating to teachers, principals and administrators is integral to the success of the program, and ultimately the success of teachers.
Under the leadership of John White, the Louisiana Department of Education is overhauling the agency’s communications, with a focus on parents and teachers. A new website, informative newsletters, a statewide tour of schools and multiple meetings with teachers and parents are among the communications efforts already under way. Additionally, the department responds to an average of 1,700 calls and hundreds of emails from constituents every week.
The Department of Education has an obligation to inform the public about changes that impact education. As president of BESE, I am grateful Superintendent White takes this responsibility seriously.
Penny Dastugue, president
Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
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