Letter: Board should listen to teachers

Regarding the recent letter suggesting that the Lafayette Parish School Board and the superintendent get on the same page, they first need to get in the same book. There are fundamental differences between individual board members and the superintendent over the direction of our school system.

Further complicating things are the Common Core/Engage New York mandates and curricula, which are creating havoc in our classrooms, and the lack of enforcement of board discipline policies on some campuses.

While the state Legislature will wrestle this year with whether to continue Core, the classroom dysfunction created by the central office’s stubborn adherence to Engage New York curricula is entirely self-inflicted.

The curriculum to meet Core standards is up to parish officials, who have dug in like Alabama ticks on the issue. Ignoring the recommendations of their own teachers’ committees, who reviewed and recommended books and other materials to meet Core standards, these administrators unilaterally forced Engage New York and its confusing, counterproductive math methods and “progressive” English curricula on teachers and students.

The results were entirely predictable. Scores of parents calling teachers, complaining they are unable to fathom their children’s second-grade math homework and freshman honors English students studying the merits of “nonviolent resistance” and “oppression” by greedy capitalists. Just what our kids need to compete in the 21st century — discredited 1960s radicalism.

Of course, teachers can teach nothing unless they maintain discipline, which is virtually absent on some campuses. In an effort to “fix” every student’s problems, discipline infraction reports, completed by classroom teachers, are edited, redacted or deleted entirely, thereby giving a false picture of student behavior in schools.

The push to keep one or two chronically misbehaving students per classroom “on campus” dooms to failure the other 20 to 25 students who want to learn. We’re literally throwing away the futures of these good students.

And the further irony, of course, is that simply ignoring the conduct of disruptive students does absolutely nothing to help them.

The board needs to find out what’s happening in its districts’ classrooms by visiting them frequently and speaking to classroom teachers — away from their supervisors. Demand that discipline policies be enforced and that all reports are submitted as written.

Most importantly, listen to classroom teachers. They know exactly why students are not reaching their potential. They don’t require any more “data-driven” solutions to people-driven problems.

Richard Thornton