Concerns with the selection of new members of The Advertiser’s Editorial Board

Concerns with the selection of new members of The Advertiser’s Editorial Board

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Guest Blogger Debbie Hargrave examines the background of the new appointees to the Advertiser editorial board:

The June 1st Sunday Advertiser’s introduction of the 3 new members as well as 2 returning members of its editorial board impressed me. All of the members are highly accomplished and obviously committed to the community. Cindy McCurry-Ross stated that the newspaper sees its role as “sparking, stimulating, provoking and encouraging community dialogue.” Obviously this has been accomplished. My concern, however, is the lack of diversity, especially in terms of public education in Lafayette Parish. Ms. McCurry-Ross further wrote “And we are always open to disparate voices.” I don’t think she has accomplished this goal of diversity in dissimilar and contrasting opinion in terms of public education.

After having taught in a Lafayette Parish public school for 40 years and being a product of that same system, I despair that the public education system not only in Lafayette but throughout the US is under attack, especially by those who say they want reform, but what they mean by reform is privatization i.e. charter schools. Privatization is NOT reform.

Chip Jackson is an active member of 100 Black Men of Greater Lafayette and the chair of their education committee, Anne Falgout is the president-elect of 705, and Jay Jackson is Chair of the education committees of both the Chamber and United Way.

Each of these groups, 100 Black Men, 705, The Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, and The United Way are strong members and supporters of LaPESC – Lafayette Parish Public Education Stakeholders Council. Its primary goal is “Working to achieve academic improvement for all children in the Lafayette Parish Public School System.” That sounds great, but their calls to action and listed goals and priorities are a great deal more specific, and that’s what frightens me.

From the LaPESC website (the underlining is mine) : “Call to Action: LaPESC supports charter schools and advocates LPSS School Board approval of high-quality applications that meet standards of third party reviewers recognized by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. LaPESC also advocates continued support of the 100% in/100% out turnaround plan [Dr. Cooper] so that all LPSS schools are high performing by the year 2018.”

What’s more, although LaPESC set up 10 specific governance goals for the Lafayette Parish School Board in May 2011, the group is now asking community members to evaluate the Board members after every meeting. The proximity of this new initiative to the upcoming elections is, in my mind, far from coincidence though Margaret Trahan, one of LaPESC’s founders, told the Board at its May 21st meeting that the group is not political.

Whether political are not, LaPESC seems very focused and like-minded – the antithesis of the “disparate voices” called for.

I hope that my concerns are unfounded and that the newspaper has not already decided its position in the continuing public school system debates as well as the upcoming School Board elections, but I think there is reason to worry.

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