Letter: Students learn most from each other

In the April 26 issue, The Advocate printed details of a disagreement between the East Baton Rouge Parish School Superintendent Bernard Taylor and state Education Superintendent John White, in which White disagreed with Taylor’s plan to move students around to save an F-rated school from being taken over by the Recovery School District. I can understand why the parents-involved are in favor of this plan, since Recovery School District schools usually perform so poorly.

Practically all of them seem to be rated as “very poor” schools, although the state claims to be reforming them. I can’t blame Superintendent Taylor from trying to save parents and students from the Recovery School District. I wouldn’t want to be consigned to a Recovery School District school if I were a student, under practically any conditions — not from what I have seen, read and heard.

What Superintendent White does seem to finally understand is that when one associates other students with struggling ones, those with family and academic issues, the other students have to cope with new challenges, sitting in class with problem students. It’s more about the students with whom you attend class than the teachers who try to educate you. Superintendent White seems to get it this time, but misses the point when he proposes to evaluate teachers on the basis of student achievement.

When students are segregated on the basis of academic facility, parental support and motivation, teachers with less ability teaching the more-advantaged students will often be rated above teachers with more ability trying to educate the children with more problems and less potential. Is this fair? Some students seem to have little need for the teacher in learning. Others can’t learn anything without perennial and personal intervention of the teacher.

I don’t think Superintendent White has arrived at this level of understanding when I consider his evaluation system for teachers. However, he has at least arrived at one level of understanding, and that part is encouraging.

It would be interesting to know what Superintendent White thinks of the proposal to chop up the East Baton Rouge Parish School system again so that students in more-advantaged areas are separated from students in less-advantaged areas, and the advantaged ones can then achieve a high-performance grade. If he is consistent in his thinking, he would be against this initiative, it seems.

James V. Blasi

teacher

Baton Rouge