I attended Baton Rouge public schools from Grades 5-9, when we moved away. My daughter is in 4th grade at BASIS, a public charter school. My son graduated from Catholic High.
I have attended several school board meetings in the past.
I have significant leadership and public service experience building large, diverse teams to be united toward achieving a common goal. I will bring these skills to the board to help unite our board and our community to bring dramatic reform to better educate our children.
I am a strong supporter of charter schools. As long as so many public schools are failing, I don’t think we should turn away any organization which may be able to educate children better than the traditional public schools are doing. I don’t believe that charter schools are a significant cause of any “budget deficits.” I would further note that, as a public entity, the school system cannot have “budget deficits.” It cannot borrow money to cover basic operating expenses. If traditional public schools are short of funds for necessary things, it is either because the school system has not properly prioritized funding or because taxpayers have not been convinced of the need for more funding, and thus have not voted for additional taxes.
Recruitment and retention of highly qualified teachers is perhaps the biggest challenge facing our school system today. As with most things, the board’s role is not to solve the problem, but to ensure that the superintendent solves the problem, while providing any support and policy changes the superintendent may need.
The school board is largely powerless to increase teacher pay. There is only so much money available in the budget. It is for the legislature to provide additional funds through the MFP formula, or for local voters to support tax increases that can be used for teacher pay.
But survey after survey shows that teacher dissatisfaction is due to a combination of low pay and poor working conditions. While the board can’t solve pay, it can and should take steps to improve working conditions. Teachers should be treated like the professionals they are. They should be held accountable for doing their job of educating our children, but without micromanaging them.
The law currently requires school boards to individually evaluate each request for an ITEP exemption. I would do that. In general, the idea behind ITEP exemptions is to encourage corporate activities that will result in more jobs and, ultimately, greater property values. Wholesale removal of ITEP exemptions would run the risk of deterring expansion by large industrial plants and other businesses in Baton Rouge. These risks and benefits must be carefully considered prior to making any individual ITEP decision.
Regarding #4, of course family poverty has a significant influence on student academic achievement. But that just means that our educational system needs to devote more resources and do a better job to help those students get the first-class education they deserve. Grading schools on a curve based on their student demographics would give too many schools a pass from doing their job… providing a quality education to all students, regardless of family economic conditions.