La. report cards no real surprise

For years, parents have muddled through the paperwork, trying to make sense of how their child’s school is performing.

The scores were masked with “stars,” similar to a kindergartner’s class work. And much like any bureaucratic government report, were difficult to decipher.

Exactly how our public schools were performing? We never truly knew.

Until now.

Calling it a “new day in Louisiana education,” the state Department of Education released letter grades, the same ones our children have been bringing home for years, and the news is not all good.

Tri-parish area schools combined earned a C-average. Mulberry Elementary School in Houma and Berwick High School are our star pupils, earning an A-plus and an A, respectively.

More alarming is the news that 13 Terrebonne Parish, seven Lafourche and six St. Mary public schools earned a D, or lower.

The state isn’t fairing any better. According to the Louisiana Department of Education, 44 percent of the state’s public schools earned a D or F.

That comes as no surprise to business and industry. For years, companies hiring for high-tech or skilled positions have argued that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find qualified workers here in our own state. The recent push for accountability in our schools, and certainly holding schools to the same letter grade standard we hold our children to, is a good start.

Now that the elephant in the room has been shed of its ambiguous star rating, it should be easier to recognize the beast.

Last week’s report card was a shocker and an embarrassment for many. Political fallout has already begun. Gov. Bobby Jindal called the grades “unacceptable,” noting that more than one-third of Louisiana public school students are not on grade level. The Louisiana Association of Educators quickly fired back, blaming the governor’s budget for cutting school funding.

Similarly, school districts are putting their spin on the grades.

The reality is it’s report card time. Taxpayers, as parents of the system, now know how well or poorly our public schools are performing. Now, we must collectively demand improvement and reform, and fast. We wouldn’t expect anything less from our children, why should our schools get a pass?

Get involved. Check out the grades. And then get in touch with your child’s teachers, school administrators and school board representatives to find out what’s being done to improve before the next grading period. Failure in our schools should not be acceptable.