Are Louisiana’s high schools teaching our children what they need to know?
That’s the subject for a special town hall edition of Louisiana Public Square called "Redesigning Louisiana's High Schools." The hour-long program aired Wednesday, April 20th at 7PM on LPB and Sunday, April 24 at 4PM. It aired on WLAE-TV in New Orleans on Tuesday, April 26 at 8:30PM and Friday, April 29 at midnight.
A project of the National Governor’s Association, the Redesigning The American High School Initiative has been the subject of town hall discussions in a number of states around the country.
Panelists included Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member Linda Johnson, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry President Dan Juneau and Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. E. Joseph Savoie. State Deputy Superintendent of Education Carole Wallin and Mark Musick, the president of the Southern Regional Education Board, participated in the discussion. The audience included students, parents and teachers in an open dialogue about the urgent need to improve high schools in our state. Virginia Governor Mark Warner spoke via video.
Some of the changes discussed at the National Governors Association Summit on Education earlier this year include:
* aligning high school graduation requirements with college-readiness standards;
* helping low-performing schools and students;
* increasing the number of high-quality teachers and principals;
* collecting data to better measure progress;
* strengthening accountability for high schools and colleges;
* and integrating K-12 and postsecondary education.
To gauge the effectiveness of the discussion, the LSU Public Policy Research Lab at the Manship School of Mass Communication’s Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs polled participants before and after the town hall meeting to see if the discussion has changed anybody’s opinion on the subject. Viewers can take the same survey. The results are posted on this Web site.
LPB President Beth Courtney hosts the program with guest hosts Karen Henderson and Barry Erwin.
This program was produced in cooperation with the National Governors Association and made possible with the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Re-Designing Louisiana's High Schools
It used to be that a high school diploma was a young person’s ticket to success in the world of work or college studies. Not any more.
In 2004, A-C-T Assessment scores showed that only 17 percent of Louisiana high school students who took the test were adequately prepared for college and work. The exam measures college readiness in Biology, Algebra and English Composition.
High levels of enrollment in college remedial classes confirm the A-C-T results. In 2003, more than a third of college freshmen from Louisiana public schools had to take remedial courses — often, to no avail.
Nearly two thirds of Louisiana freshmen at 4 year colleges fail to earn a degree within 6 years. That puts Louisiana dead last among the 50 states in a 4 year college completion.
The results also underscore the claim by some business leaders that Louisiana’s workforce is under-educated. A recent survey by the nonpartisan Council for a Better Louisiana, found that more than 70 percent of Louisiana employers had a “somewhat difficult” or “very difficult” time finding qualified workers.
With many of those who complete high school foundering, the struggle is even greater for those who don’t graduate.
The Louisiana High School Re-Design Commission was established to develop statewide policies and guiding principles, and to recommend actions that will affect all 192 thousand public high school students in Louisiana.
Creating a better alignment between the abilities of high school graduates and the needs of employers and colleges is one of the goals of the Re-Design Commission.
Other re-design goals include: a uniform application of high academic standards; re-thinking day-to-day and yearly scheduling; requiring additional courses and dual-enrollment in college and high school courses.
Technological change has upped the ante for what high school grads need to know to be successful in work or college.
Demographic change means that by the year 2010 — just five years from now — about half the people under age 18 in Louisiana will be African, Asian, or Hispanic American.
The challenge for proponents of high school re-design is to ensure that the modifications they make to Louisiana’s secondary education institutions meet the needs of both the students and the state in a world of constant change.
URLs to check out:
http://www.2005summit.org/ The 2005 National Educational Summit on High Schools
http://www.achieve.org/ Created by the nation's governors and business leaders, Achieve, Inc., is a bipartisan, non-profit organization that helps states raise academic standards, improve assessments and strengthen accountability to prepare all young people for postsecondary education, work and citizenship.
http://www.nga.org/ The National Governor’s Association and the Redesigning The American High School Initiative.
Council for a Better Louisiana
Louisiana High School Re-Design Commission
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How well is the state’s public school system really performing?
One national survey ranks Louisiana as 49th for academic achievement of public school students. Another national report ranks the state dead last. So, how well is the state’s public school system really performing? Where is there room for improvement? What will the new federal “Every Student Succeeds Act” mean for education in Louisiana? And how have the historic summer floods changed things? Louisiana Public Square explores these issues and more on “Pass or Fail? Louisiana’s Education System” Wednesday, September 28 at 7 p.m. on LPB HD and in New Orleans on WLAE.
The panelists are
• Superintendent Michael Faulk, Central Community School System
• James D. Garvey, Jr. , BESE Board President
• Scott Richard, Executive Director, Louisiana School Boards Association
• Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith, D- Baton Rouge; House Education Committee
LPB CEO Beth Courtney and LSU Manship School of Mass Communication professor Robert Mann host the show. The program features interviews with Louisiana Education State Superintendent John White; Debbie Meaux, President of the Louisiana Association of Educators; Brigitte Nieland with the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and Caddo Parish School Superintendent Dr. Theodis Lamar Goree.
“Pass or Fail? Louisiana’s Education System” can also be heard on public radio stations WRKF in Baton Rouge; Red River Radio in Shreveport and Monroe; and WWNO in New Orleans. Check their station websites for schedule.
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