Can Lafayette’s Education System Be Fixed? – Wingin’ It Wednesday
This week on "Wingin' It Wednesday", panelist Carol Ross, Mike Stagg, and Warren Caudle joined "Mornings with Ken and Bernie" to discuss the state of education in Lafayette and ways it can be improved.
Here's what the panel had to say:
1. Members of the Community Education Plan recently agreed to discuss tax options with the Lafayette Parish School Board. The Committee thinks more money is needed to expand and repair school facilities. Three options are being considered by the Committee including a half cent sales tax and three different millages. Considering the last tax election failed miserably do you think the School will or should consider any such proposal?
Warren Caudle started us off:
I think they'll always consider anything that will put more money into the coffers. The biggest problem we have in education today is that nobody wants to take responsibility anymore. We want to have some buffer to give us plausible deniability. We'll hire some consultant and let them come and tell us what we need. Then we can blame the consultant later. When anything comes up, "it wasn't my deal, that was somebody else". Everything is someone else's problem. Nobody wants to take responsibility.
Carol Ross added:
The school board is on record as having doubts to whether they'll even put this on the ballet. The last plan a little over a year ago was defeated overwhelmingly, and there's an overwhelming lack of confidence by this school board and this school system. The teachers are being well paid, what is the problem here? The governance, the constantly tweaking, they're always bringing in consultants and committee members. The problem is there is no confidence that whatever they pass will be implemented as intended by this school board. The board has oversight on policy and budget, but they hire and fire the superintendent.
WIll the plan pass? No, nothing has significantly changed since the last election to gather support for another plan.
Mike Stagg Concluded:
When you're looking for an excuse not to do something any one will do. I have a daughter that went through public schools in Lafayette, she went to LJ Alleman which is a great school, and she went to Lafayette High. Those schools were built for populations much smaller than they have now. The fact is that these schools reflect our values, and what our values say is that we will not invest in education. Lafayette positions itself as a progressive town and we have all this tech stuff, but we will never capitalize on it because we do not value education.
2. Do you think switching to independent school districts would improve Lafayette's eduction issues?
Yeah, I absolutely think that's the way to go. That's the way for accountability. Let's look at the five high schools we have. Let's call them the anchor schools. Then the feeder schools feeding in would be under them. Property tax would be equally distributed between the five schools. They'd have to meet certain standards, but they'd be governed generally by an independent panel made up by teachers, principals, and parents. If there are economically disadvantaged districts within the parish, those could, and do already, get additional monies from the state and federal government. You'd have more local control, more accountability.
Right now I feel like many parents feel they have no input, no control. That's why smaller, independent school districts are the way to go.
An independent school district is a separate tax district for public schools just like they've been trying to create in East Baton Rouge Parish. It's a carve out. These are terrible ideas. As you would see in the proposed district in East Baton Rouge, that would be a white school district. It would carve out the wealth of southeast Baton Rouge from the rest of the Baton Rouge school system.
Texas has independent school districts, but you have to have some form of equalization. You need a reliable funding source to be able to balance this out. I think in Louisiana, where we're a high poverty state, you'll have fundamental problems implementing independent school districts with such a high disparity between wealth and poverty.
I don't think you can do away with the school board and go independent. Let me just say that the problem we have with education is that nobody wants to take the blame for anything. The biggest problem we've got with public education is that we've let universities take it over. They dictate the policy and they dictate the curriculum The best teacher in the schools are paid the exact same as the worst teacher. We need to take a business type approach and say that we won't accept failure.
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Now it’s your turn to tell us what you think about today’s Wingin’ It Wednesday topics. Who got it right, who got it wrong, and who was way off? Let us know in the comment section.