Louisiana editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:
The (Lake Charles) American Press on governor candidates and education:
The charges and countercharges that have dominated the Louisiana gubernatorial contest have made it difficult for voters to determine where the truth really lies. However, that isn’t the case when it comes to the state’s education system.
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and Republican Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone, the two runoff candidates, have clear views about public vs. charter and private schools. Edwards is in the first camp and Rispone in the second, and they don’t agree on how to give teacher pay increases, according to a report in The Advocate.
Edwards is clearly aligned with and supported by the two teacher unions, the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Education. Spokesmen for the two groups favor across-the-board pay increases until the Southern Regional Education Board average is reached, and the state is at least $1,200 behind that average.
Rispone said he favors targeted teacher pay raises, and said unnamed local school board superintendents agreed with him. The newspaper said earlier this year some legislators proposed extra pay for hard-to-fill jobs, like math, science and special education, but the move never gained political traction.
Edwards said the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) shouldn’t have the right to approve charter schools in high-performing districts after local school boards reject them. Charter schools are public schools run by non-governmental boards.
Rispone said BESE has rightly closed charter schools that failed to deliver on academic and other promises. He said it hasn’t been done to public schools that are rated “D″ or “F.”
The two candidates also disagree on the voucher program that provides state aid for some students to attend private schools. Rispone has been active in the voucher area, and said the state needs a governor who feels strongly about school choice and puts children first.
Edwards said more accountability is needed in the voucher program because some private schools have failed to produce significant gains on test scores. He said all it takes for a private school to enter the program is filling out a simple questionnaire and a visit to the schools isn’t required.
Rispone was asked how he would improve public schools, and said that was one reason he supports a constitutional convention. However, he declined to spell out what changes he thinks are needed.
Edwards has opposed calling a convention. Other critics are concerned there would be no guarantees that state aid to public schools would remain stable.
Voters who are clear about their education views should have no problem picking a gubernatorial candidate when they cast their ballots on Nov. 16.
The (Lake Charles) American Press on having a safe Halloween:
Halloween is a fun time for children, but there are many precautions parents should take to keep their children safe.
“It is a scary fact, but children are more than twice as likely to be killed by a car while walking on Halloween night than at any other time of the year,” said Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry. “It is imperative that parents and guardians be extra vigilant and take the appropriate precautions to make certain their children remain out of harm’s way.”
To help make Halloween festivities a trick-free treat, Landry offers the following safety tips:
- Put your cell phones down and keep your heads up while walking.
- Make sure all costumes and wigs are flame resistant.
- Be cautious with face paint and makeup; always test it in a small area first to avoid allergic reactions.
- Make sure your pets are secured because they might be frightened by unfamiliar people and could bite a child or run out of open doors.
- If your child will be trick-or-treating without you, plan a familiar route and set a curfew.
- Never go trick-or-treating alone; walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
- Always cross the street at corners and obey all traffic signals and crosswalks.
- Wear well-fitting masks, costumes and shoes to avoid blocked vision and falls.
- If driving, be sure to eliminate any distractions and be aware of trick-or-treaters.
We would also like to add that only adults should carve pumpkins. Use flashlights or glow sticks to light pumpkins; votive candles are the safest if you must use a candle.
Parents should ration candy and treats over several days to avoid sick little tummies. Offer to swap some of your child’s candy for a toy or book. Homeowners should consider providing non-edible treats, such as stickers, coloring books, pens and pencils.
Homeowners are also urged to clear their lawns and sidewalks of hazards, such as hoses, bikes and wet leaves.
If you plan to be out collecting candy with your children Thursday night, make sure to be safe.
The Advocate on the need for black male teachers:
Education is an important foundation for children. The classroom is the first place where young minds are introduced to subject matter expertise, relationships, friendships and structure outside of home. Nearly always we trust teachers to be responsible for our kids, asking them to professionally guide them through course curriculum and make them better, and smarter, human beings.
An important aspect often missing is diversity. Because we want our children to learn some specific subject content in an effort to give all kids similar academic standing, we rely on teachers to reflect the communities, neighborhoods and parishes where they teach. Far too often, the teachers in front of these classrooms don’t appropriately reflect the places the students call home.
That’s especially true with black males.
According to data compiled by the Louisiana Department of Education, of the state’s 47,300 public school teachers in 2018, only 2,419 were black men. That’s 5%. That’s not acceptable in a state with 309,000 black students. But meeting the standard of providing more black teachers is difficult to do, when not even 30% of the state’s residents have college degrees, and only 11% of black men have a four-year college degree or an advanced degree.
There is not a simple fix. We won’t have more black male teachers without more black male college graduates interested in public-school teaching. The teaching profession is far too important and far too valuable to treat it as just another job. We must encourage black males to do well in school, to go to college and to consider teaching. We must provide the infrastructure to show our confidence and faith in our educational systems, and in black males.
Additionally, a practical issue is teacher pay. The $1,000 raise adopted by the Legislature this year only goes a little way toward the goal of adequate compensation for a profession. The actions of Jefferson Parish voters in raising more local revenues for raises points the way for improving the compensation of teachers. Other parishes should look hard at that example.
Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed noted the lack of black male teachers, saying, “We have done a poor job of really elevating the teaching profession.” Acknowledgment is a good step. The hard work is ahead, and the gubernatorial candidates, legislative candidates and others should weigh in and tell us, specifically, why they care and what they’ll do about this problem.