• Swamp Watch

Education Swamp Trying to Lower the Bar for Louisiana Students

Proposals to Hold School Districts to Higher Standards Met with Stiff Opposition by Louisiana School Superintendents

Fresh off another round of test results showing Louisiana's public school students struggling in nearly every key metric and new national rankings again pegging Louisiana's public schools at 49th in the nation, Louisiana's public schools superintendents are still singing the same tune: maintain the status quo.

Despite the dire rankings, the education swamp is continuing its fight against any changes to public education in Louisiana. During this week's meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education's Accountability Study Group, changes to how Louisiana ranks public high schools were debated. As Superintendent Cade Brumley pointed out, "When we are talking about high schools it is hard for me to reconcile that 37% of our kids are mastering content, 18 on the ACT is our average and 70% of high schools are A and B." Indeed, it is shocking that so many schools are ranked A and B by the state, when the average student doesn't even meet the minimum ACT score to be admitted to most public universities in Louisiana and only about 1/3 of students are mastering their content.

Amid a debate to fix the current accountability system for public high schools in Louisiana to address that contradiction, Michael Faulk of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, as well as Superintendents from around the state, urged BESE to slow down and scale back its plan.

Testifying before the study group, Faulk argued that there would be "unintended consequences" to making sure public high school rankings actually reflected student achievement, and urged them to delay the plan, currently proposed to begin in the 2025-2026 school year, another year until the 2026 school year- a full 4 years from now. Faulk even took issue with the plan for not rewarding schools for simply having students graduate, saying "They're giving no points to the districts if students just graduate. They get a diploma, but the district isn't being rewarded for them getting that diploma." Shouldn't students graduating be a basic expectation of public schools, not something worth getting bonus points for? Or, perhaps Superintendent Faulk just wants high schools to be taxpayer funded day care, with no real purpose of educating students? The past would indicate so, with Faulk and the Superintendents consistently standing against efforts to hold public schools accountable.

The Superintendents Association, along with the Louisiana School Boards Association, lead the effort last year to shield the poor performance of Louisiana's public schools from families and taxpayers. In his testimony then, Faulk revealed the true intention of the Superintendents and the "unintended consequences" they fear: being held accountable for their own performance, saying "Consequences we’re looking at- the Contracts with principals’ performance objectives, contracts with supervisors’ performance objectives, contracts with superintendents’ performance objectives." While Faulk was more careful with his words this time, he's revealed what the education swamp really cares about: shielding public school leaders from accountability for poor performance of the students in their schools.

Cruelly, the Superintendents have even fought to keep kids trapped in these schools, by working to stop parents from being able to take their kids out of failing public schools- even parents of children with special needs.

If the education swamp is so hellbent on lowering the bar for Louisiana's students, the least they can do is get out of the way and allow parents to take their kids to schools with real standards.

You can read all of our past stories on the Superintendents Association and Louisiana's education swamp here.

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