We are losing good teachers every year by the thousands, and an alarming rate of them are voluntarily either leaving the state of Louisiana or the teaching profession altogether because they have been beaten down, ignored, and in some case reprimanded over the years for voicing their concerns over the state of our education. Discipline issues have eroded instructional time by as much as 50% in some schools, and teacher moral is at an all-time low. Our teachers should be evaluated on their own merits, not by the actions of others (i.e. test scores). Teachers should be praised or held accountable by criteria such as professionalism, creativity, knowledge of content, delivery of content, and availability to students among others. I will be a voice for our teachers, and will work harder to make their jobs easier.
There's no getting around the fact that we must engage our students, and challenge them to reach higher than they think is possible. As a former Navy SEAL, we had a 40% rule that states; When your mind is telling you that you're done, that you're exhausted, that you cannot possibly go any further, you're only actually 40% done. We should apply that same rule to the standards for which we teach our children. When society, peers, or even family members tell our students they can't achieve anything else, it is the educator that pushes our students to greater heights. Unfortunately, Common Core and the current Louisiana State Student Standards that is virtually identical with Common Core, is not the answer. We must revisit our student standards by providing the knowledge and vision set forth by the teachers, parents, communities, and businesses of Louisiana.
Our students are being inundated with standardized testing, and the most concerning aspect is the inappropriate use of the test results. These tests are being used as a measuring stick to evaluate our schools and teachers. In general, if the tests scores are good, the schools and teachers of those students are deemed good. If the results are bad, the schools and teachers are deemed bad. In such a system, our teachers have resolved to all but abandon developing their students and instead "teach to the test". This is a broken system. I do believe there is a need to evaluate student progress, but for the purposes of adjusting to the needs of those students so they are fully prepared for life after grade school.
In Louisiana, their is an overwhelming demand for skilled workers in industry, and good paying jobs are going unfilled because of the lack of workers with the ability and experience to fill them. Education is not a one-size-fits all arena, and the talents of too many students are going untapped because of the lack of resources needed to train them in industry trade or certification. We have tip-toed into the waters of the Career Pathway, but it is time to open funding to this program and encourage training, apprenticeship, and work placement to supply the demand for these jobs.
Our system of government is built on a democracy by which we the people govern ourselves via our vote for representation. Our district school boards are filled with local citizens elected by their communities and tasked with the sole purpose of governing the systems and processes by which the children of those communities are being prepared for adulthood. One of the great qualities in Louisiana's local communities is their diverse characteristics. These local boards know best the backgrounds and cultures of the residents they live, work, go to church, and shop with. These boards have the ability, and the right, to reach their students in a way that will reach their students! The local districts should be given the authority to operate their schools as they see fit. This authority should include the right to choose their own curriculum, set their own discipline policies, create and operate educational programs, evaluate their schools and teachers, approve or deny charter schools in their districts, and fund all such schools and organizations accordingly. BESE and the Louisiana Dept. of Education should supply the local districts with a set of minimum student achievement standards, oversight, and the financial resources they need to fulfill their purpose.