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Jack Donahue Newsletter 3-16-2007 PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, March 15 2007 - 8:00 pm

Dear Friends, 

 

As a college graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering, I know the true value of a good education. If Louisiana is going to grow its economy and reverse the outward migration trend of recent years, it is imperative that public education be improved at all levels: pre-K and elementary, secondary, vo-tech, and higher education. A poor education system not only harms our economy, but it also contributes to our high crime rate and our substance abuse problem in Louisiana.

 

"Leaders and Laggards" , charter schools, higher education

Dear Friends,

 

 

As a college graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering, I know the true value of a good education. If Louisiana is going to grow its economy and reverse the outward migration trend of recent years, it is imperative that public education be improved at all levels: pre-K and elementary, secondary, vo-tech, and higher education. A poor education system not only harms our economy, but it also contributes to our high crime rate and our substance abuse problem in Louisiana.

 

Recently, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released its report on education entitled "Leaders and Laggards." Sadly, the report showed that in the U.S., 30% of students do not graduate from high school. In Louisiana, the problem is even worse. According to a U.S. Census Bureau study, Louisiana has the third lowest high school graduation rate in the nation. Other studies indicate that our state ranks at the bottom among all states on key educational criteria.

 

Louisiana trails the rest of the nation in community college and vo-tech school enrollment. These schools can provide students with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace. The majority of jobs in Louisiana require only an associate degree, certification or advanced training and not a university degree. However, in Louisiana, 76% of higher education students are enrolled in 4-year institutions, compared to a Southern average of only 56%. Not surprisingly, we have the worst record in the South for college completion.

 

We have had some success. Our LA 4 pre-K program is winning some acclaim. Test results for at risk students have shown outstanding results when introduced to a pre-school educational process. The pilot program was done in a number of parishes around the state. Louisiana is also earning high marks for the testing of its incoming teachers on their basic skills and requiring teachers to demonstrate expertise in their subject matters.

 

We must do more, including raising our teacher salaries to the Southern average. This can be done without raising taxes, but only if we prioritize our spending. More money of the existing budget must be directed toward the classroom and less toward the bureaucracy of the state department of education.

 

In recent years, more charter schools have opened. This is a positive development. I support expanding the number of charter schools in the state and turning over the management of more of our public schools to local communities.