EBR Teachers Protest Takeover

Wednesday, January 28, 2009 - 12:46pm

Teachers are protesting trying to stop what they see as the death of public education in Louisiana. Our Jon Fairbanks is live at the demonstration.

There’s about a dozen teachers in front of the State Department of Education, all protesting the state’s decision to put ten schools in the Recovery District. The educators are upset, they want to know why this is happening and they want to hear it from the Superintendent Paul Pastorek. Teachers, especially here in Baton Rouge, say the state is using teachers and students as political pawns and disrupting their lives for no good reason.

L.A.E. President Joyce Hayes says, “Right now it’s a major disruption to the school system and the students when they are preparing for the leap test. They’re worried about where they are going to be, who’s going to be teaching if they are going to be displaced.”

Capitol Middle School teacher Isaiah Myers says, “My school was taken over last year. It’s worse off now than it was. They cannot assure me definitively anywhere where they have taken a school over, where they’ve been effective.”

We are told that the Superintendent or a representative from his office will be addressing the protest this evening.

Those teachers have been preparing for their protest for days. Our David D’Aquin has been tracking this story. He found out students, teachers, and parents are worried about what’s next.

They’ve spent days making their signs and planning a protest, they hope, will prevent the state takeover of eight Baton Rouge schools. Teachers say they know schools are in decline, but they say some standards set up by the state are impossible to meet.

EBR teacher Hilda P. Smart says, “We’re showing progress. We started at the eight. They let us go this far. We haven’t even finished the year out.” Many teachers say they’re being made to feel like failures, and students are hurting.

The protest may have no effect on the B.E.S.E. Board’s decision, teachers and supports know that, but say, they want to be heard. While they’re out protesting, the teachers hope they’ll have an opportunity to speak with Paul Pastorek who heads up the State Department of Education. They hope he’ll understand their desire to keep the eight schools in the EBR school system.

More than anything, teachers want to know they’ll have jobs after the takeover. Teaching Assistant Shanda Leatherman says, “They don’t know if they gonna have a job tomorrow, how they gonna pay they bills, and feed they kids and how they gonna survive?”

Teachers say they hope to see the schools stay under the control of the East Baton Rouge school system, though they’re not sure how effective their protest will be.