In regards to the recent Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting whereby Louisiana’s federal education plan (Every Student Succeeds Act) was considered, and, in response to the assertions by some that the request to delay and substantively revise the ESSA Plan was made by failing school districts, we feel we must set the record straight with facts.
The 2016 scores in Louisiana provide that of the 69 school districts run by elected school boards 41 (59 percent) received a letter grade of either A (15) or B (26) with another 21 receiving a letter grade of C. Only seven received a letter grade of D and zero were graded as an F. The recovery school district for Baton Rouge and the recovery school district for Louisiana, administered by the state board, were awarded grades of D and F respectively.
A vast majority of local superintendents representing districts that are labeled A, B and C requested that the submission of the incomplete plan be delayed until September. The notion that the requests came from failing districts is fundamentally untrue. Additionally, more than 90 percent of principals from across the state requested a delay and revision of the state ESSA plan.
What this shows is that the proposed ESSA Plan is universally opposed by school districts from across the entire letter grade spectrum and by the principals who run our schools daily. Moving forward with an incomplete plan is irresponsible. The 61 Superintendents and high number of principals who urged further work on the ESSA plan have decades of education training and experience, yet Louisiana has opted to move forward with a plan crafted by a few people with little, if any, experience in operating a public school or school district. The primary proponents were bureaucrats and lobbyists who have limited real-world education experience.
The comment of BESE member Garvey that the accountability system that he presided over for years and continues to control is a lie, is, frankly, shocking. Of note, BESE recently ignored its own accountability system by renewing a charter school, despite repeated F letter grades. The rationale for ignoring the school’s F was that the accountability system under-rewarded the success of the school. But, when it comes to traditional public schools BESE asserts that it has been over-rewarding schools and school districts. The hypocrisy is hard to explain.
The Louisiana School Boards Association will continue to speak for the 700,000 public school students, their parents/voters, and the education professionals tasked with navigating whatever maze of obstacles special interests place in the way of public education. Ultimately, meeting the needs of the parents/voters within each local school district is the goal of each elected school board member. If overcoming the politics and bureaucracy that BESE and the Louisiana Department of Education represent is the task, so be it.