Educators have chance to prove their skills

Next week more than 42,000 public school students of the Tri-parish region return to their classrooms for another academic year.

When the first bell rings on Aug. 8, in St. Mary and Terrebonne parishes, and Aug. 10, in Lafourche Parish, teachers and administrators will face the challenge that has been discussed every summer for several years – how to do more with less money.

Positions have been cut or eliminated through attrition, pennies have been pinched by school boards and administrators continue to examine what can be reduced while increasing classroom performance.

It is interesting to note that as budgets tightened during the past two years, academic performance improved among Tri-parish schools, surpassing overall state levels by an average of 3 percent.

Superintendents have rightfully proclaimed that grades are not where they need to be, but commend students and instructors on noticeable advancements.

Public education practices during the past three decades have taught us that simply throwing money at schools (admittedly not a big problem in Louisiana) and loading curriculums with feel-good-about-yourself classes have not helped academic performance.

Superintendents of Lafourche, St. Mary and Terrebonne parishes’ public schools attribute improvements as coming from a return to the basics, instilling a desire to learn among the youngest of students and equipping them with tools to successfully achieve in higher grades.

We believe local school districts would also benefit by customizing curriculums to not only satisfy state requirements, but address local economic cultures.

Core curriculums combined with distributive education, skilled programs and apprenticeships through regional business sponsorships would enhance educational accomplishment and train a future workforce.

A lack of money is not the problem. It is a symptom. It is a challenge. It is an opportunity for real educators with a passion for their profession to prove what can be accomplished with available resources.

Many of the most improved schools and highest performing individual classes in the Tri-parish districts are in lower-income neighborhoods – showing money and results are not always connected.

We encourage teachers to prove themselves with realistic challenges. We believe, with the right people on the job, it can be done on a minimal budget.

We believe Tri-parish students deserve that kind of dedication – regardless of finances.