Saturday, March 21, 2009

Let's stay focused on our JPPSS Children!!

It's been said before and I'd like to say it again, this is not about us it's about what is necessary to fairly education the children, your children, in our parish. The gang at TP pointed out rather succinctly that "...West Jefferson parents...who have been fighting for inclusion in the Jefferson Parish School Board's desegregation lawsuit were thwarted again". It is true that this is the second intervention attempt but the reason was not to be included in the desegregation lawsuit for personal gain but rather to be able to see, hear and understand the motives and reasons for the school board (school board attorneys) wanting to segregate the magnet school system. This is unprecedented among magnet systems around the country and we believe this is simple an effort to continue to segregate access to quality education, funding and infrastructure and make it difficult for our communities to heal from the wounds of the past. The bridge naturally segregates the parish along racial boundaries and the Federal Court is our only avenue to prevent the perpetuation of a division within Jefferson Parish that is not only within our educational system but also within our social, cultural, economic, business and development systems. We want the bridge issue out of the equation. If our school board wishes to institute a division at a later date then let their efforts be scrutinized by the communities affected and not be mandated by federal court. I believe this is Judge Englehardt's point and I believe his wisdom in this process will prevail.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mr. Emenes...we will miss you!

It is with great sadness that I acknowledge the loss of Jefferson Parish Eastbank Regional Superintendent Mr. Paul Emenes last night of a heart attack. I did not know Mr. Emenes well but a lot can be said well of a man who had devoted his life to one improve education within Louisiana. Jefferson Parish is going through some things now and its unfortunate that I personally did not get to hear from the man who lived through those harsh times of segregation as an adult in the public school system.
The personal experiences I did have, when he visited our school, was that of a man who was passionate about education, concerned for the well-being of children and dedicated to seeing that good teachers and administrators worked together in support of a better school system. My condolences to his family...and we will miss you Mr. Emenes.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

JPPSS Legislative Working Session

The Legislative Committee for the Jefferson Parish School System met on Friday, February 27th. In attendance were several of our distinguished school board members, a school board attorney, teacher's union representatives and me.

I entered in on a discussion between members and the Mrs. Alida Wyler, the Director of Health Services, about the necessity to have trained and willing staff to address the medical care of special needs children. This then transitioned into a discussion of the responsibilities and training associated with the impending installation of AEDs, automated external defibrillators.

The majority of the meeting time was used to engaged in discussions of Governor Bobby Jindal's proposals for the school systems. He is looking for systems statewide to address three issues: 1. Discipline, 2. Charter school improvements and, 3. "Value Added" testing and assessment. Most of the details behind the Governor's proposals require consideration of financial cutbacks and targeted spending particularly within the minimum foundation programs (MFPs) that are perceived as being supported by a "Block" grant and that its spending could be tailed for better returns.

The Governor's Proposals:

1. To address discipline in schools the main focus is to engage more parents and make them aware of the problems associated with students who disrupt class(es) or who become truants and never show up. The proposal seeks to go so far as to make parents accountable for their children's actions. Novel idea?

2. Charter schools from faith based establishments reporting to the public school system should be considered as a way of relieving the financial burdens of educating the large number students in the various communities around the state. Faith based charters in the public system have legal and social implications that may be difficult for the school board to control and that would make the ACLU curious.

3. Valued Added assessment and teaching as proposed should reflect a student's individual improvement from year to year and not just the student's performance verses the district or national average. This would encourage students who have significantly improved although still at or below the minimum requirements.

It was an interested meeting. Gene Katsanis and Jennifer Toupes? kept the meeting flowing and engaging on each topic. Hope to encounter many more sessions as I believe this is truly were policies get considered and legislation gets introduced in Baton Rouge that effects Jefferson Parish education for all children.