Our View: Education foundation for the future

Published 6:04 am Friday, August 10, 2012

Teachers statewide are welcoming students back to the classroom this week but the school year will be anything but normal.

Educational reforms, which Gov. Bobby Jindal pushed through the legislature despite passionate opposition from the teachers unions as well as some lawmakers, are now in effect. Those reforms include increased accountability for teachers, new methods of evaluating student performance, new rating standards for schools and stripping local school boards of much of their power, the most significant being handing over the hiring and firing of personnel to superintendents.

Most controversial, however, is the institution of the school voucher program, which allows students from underachieving schools to transfer to a private or parochial school, with state taxpayers picking up the tab. The voucher program has long been a priority on Jindal’s agenda.

Washington Parish School System officials should start the year quietly, unlike the past two years when the merging of schools created some angst some teachers, parents and students. Two years ago, Wesley Ray and Varnado elementary schools were merged into Wesley Ray, and a year ago saw Angie Junior High students attending class at Varnado High School.

Both of those transitions appeared to be seamless.

Waters are not so calm in Bogalusa City Schools. The district is on its third superintendent in 18 months, and that number will likely soon climb to four as board officials search for a replacement for the previous superintendent, Louise Smith. Toni Breaux has been appointed interim superintendent while the search is conducted.

The district also begins the year with Bogalusa Middle School carrying the academically unsatisfactory school stigma, which has caused a migration of students to Northside Tech. Portable buildings had to be hauled in to accommodate the overflow, with the final touches being applied as the opening bell rang.

As always, each school year begins with renewed enthusiasm and optimism. Here’s a hope that all students perform well in the classroom, as education is the foundation on which this wonderful parish will build its future.