Letter: Problems bigger than schools

I live in the proposed “new city” of St. George, and this move will force my children out of the magnet system and into either an overcrowded, poorly thought-out new public system, or into private school, which we decided long ago was not a good fit for our family, although we had the option to go private.

St. George does not have the facilities/staff in place to educate all the kids who will be “incorporated” (est. 10,000) from the EBR and magnet system because of where they live (i.e. 499 students at BR High alone). Yes, I do realize that my children were fortunate to get into the magnet system, as it is lottery-based. According to the lottery diversity factors used to select kids, a child has priority for a magnet if he lives in proximity of the school, so the breakaway supporters’ argument that magnets are not representative of neighborhood schools is not entirely sound. (http://magnet.ebrschools.org/eduWEB2/1000177/docs/selection_process_2011-12.pdf)

Let me share a South BR parent’s experience with EBR: Our school, Baton Rouge Center for Visual and Performing Arts, is successful, not because the kids are “smarter.” We actually do not have an academic requirement at our school. We have great teachers, administration and parental support. The magnet system is where we can find diversity and unity at its best. BRCVPA and the other schools my children have attended (Sherwood and BR High) have academically-achieving kids from all over the parish — and they are economically, culturally and racially diverse. Many of these kids come from single-parent homes. Some of the kids are very poor, but their parents are involved at school and at home. This is the secret to any school’s success.

St. George proponents must stop making the EBR school system accountable for what is in actuality a societal problem. As a former public school teacher, I can tell you that teachers are not entirely to blame either, although I do see that the inept ones are kept on because we do not have merit-based raises. EBR teachers spend eight hours a day working with many children whose associations and internet exposure at home are not supervised, who are not helped with homework, nor taught respect of authority, etc.

These social ills are not tied to race and socio-economic status. This is what current culture brings to public schools and even pervades some private schools. Unless a major social revolution breaks forth, I predict that if St. George breaks away to create its own school system, it will be met with the same problems plaguing EBR.

Jennifer Ellis

choir director and homemaker

Baton Rouge