Lafayette’s public school system should serve all students –those with special needs or disabilities, English language learners, and those living in poverty – who need specific assistance and resources to be ready to learn.
All children are served by the inclusion of robust arts, science, social studies and extra-curricular programs in all schools in addition to the focus on English and mathematics. Lafayette Parish School’s of Choice program is a model for creating exciting school programs that enhance children’s love of learning. Similar opportunities should be provided in all schools. School system leaders must provide adequate resources to address the needs of all children in all public schools.
Our schools should be governed and guided by Lafayette Parish citizens. Students, parents, teachers and school-level staff know best the needs and challenges faced by students in each school. Top-down interventions rarely address the real needs of schools or students. The Lafayette Parish school system and its schools should be governed with multiple structures for genuine input and decision-making by parents, educators and students.
Private partnerships have a role in our schools, but should be wholly subsidiary to the governance and guidance of the Lafayette Parish school system.
All Lafayette Parish public schools must be equitably funded to meet the specific needs of the students and communities they serve. School-level and district wide decision making must adhere to principles of openness and transparency. Elected leaders must be responsive to the voters, and the input of students, parents, teachers, school-level staff, and the pubic must be sought at all levels.
We oppose the creation of charter schools for the purpose of privatization. Charter schools can serve as incubators of innovation, but must be fully accountable to the public – part of a unified educational system that is regulated and funded for equity and accessibility. Public education should not be a source of profit.
We oppose the transfer of public education dollars as vouchers to private schools. The public’s trust in oversight and accountability of these dollars is paramount. We want a public education structure that is fully vested in the success of public schools.
We oppose state takeovers of our schools. Experience has taught us that these takeovers, usually justified with words like “urgent” and “crisis”, too often simply spell the end of democratic ownership of our schools.
Assessments are critical tools to guide teachers in improving their lesson plans and framing their instruction to meet the needs of individual students. We support accountability. But standardized assessments are misused when students, teachers and schools are penalized based on a test score. Excessive high stakes testing takes away valuable instructional time and narrows the curriculum – with the greatest impact on our most vulnerable students.
Closing schools is not an education strategy. Closing schools harms both students and the surrounding neighborhood. Corporate reform strategies ignore the challenges that students bring with them to school each day and view schools as separate and autonomous from the communities in which they sit.
Teachers are our greatest resources in public education. Alarmed by high rates of early retirements and resignations of teachers in Lafayette parish since 2011, we demand the proper supports, for teachers including relevant educational opportunities and evaluation programs that enhance not diminish teacher well-being. A tide of criticism and successive waves of state-level mandates have created uncertainty and stress for teachers. These conditions must be corrected by formally including teachers in all efforts to improve our schools.
Schools are community institutions as well as centers of learning. While education alone cannot eradicate poverty, schools can help to coordinate the supports and services their students and families need to thrive. We support schools that provide supports and services for students and their families, such as basic health care, mentoring programs, English classes for non-English speakers and more – to help strengthen the whole community as well as individual students. We support high quality early childhood programs that nurture learning and social development.