May 31, 2012
As a member and former president of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, I can tell you why we have “failing schools” in this parish:
- Board politics.
- No support for principals.
- Absolutely no support for teachers.
We had a plan that would have eliminated the insane busing of children in this parish and could only muster five of seven votes needed to forward it to the federal judge.
I was on Jim Engster’s radio show one morning, and he asked me what it would take to improve public schools. My reply raised his eyebrows when I said, “Abolish the School Board and hire a retired Marine Corps commandant to run the system.” (You can see the futility of 12 board members trying to hire their friends, posture for re-election and make parents happy when their children get in trouble at school ... by overruling the principal. Superintendent John Dilworth proved that. He couldn’t get out of town fast enough.)
We lost a lot of quality teachers because they couldn’t control the undisciplined classrooms. The principals couldn’t back up the teachers because the School Board wouldn’t back up the principals. Classrooms are disrupted by youngsters who don’t want to be there and don’t want to learn. Parents expect the teachers to transform their children into model citizens without any help from the parents. Who wants a classroom with disruptive children you have no control over, and you are expected to bring them up to a higher grade level without any support from your supervisor? Plus, they are going to grade you as a teacher on how out-of-control children do on a test!
Maybe a retired Marine Corps commandant is not so silly after all!
The one thing I learned after 10 years on the School Board is this: “Show me a good school, and I’ll show you a good principal!”
A good principal, with support from the central office and the School Board, can do wonders in a school. Ask Phyllis Crawford. Ask Sherry Harris. Ask Jerry Boudreau. Ask Jerry Epperson. ...
I support the new southeast district, and I hope the Legislature pushes it through just as it did Zachary, Baker and Central — primarily because the southeast parents would get involved. More importantly, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board would be under a microscope to prove to the taxpayer that it can fight its way out of this total lack of accountability and poor performance.
It would be a bold, progressive move for Baton Rouge. I just hope the Legislature recognizes the opportunity.
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