Istrouma fight turns from grassroots to capitol bound

Photo provided by staff
Thursday, November 7, 2013 - 6:45pm

What started as a grass roots campaign to save Istrouma high school is now gaining ground and support from some big local names.

For some it has become a matter of fighting for their community.

"I do feel blindsided. I think the entire community of 70805 feels blindsided," explained Anissia Green, an Istrouma alum and parent.

For others, the numbers just don't add up.

"I’ve discovered that more of the funding is going towards charters than traditional public schools," shared BESE member Carolyn Hill.

According to Hill, more dollars are going to fund charters than traditional public schools in Louisiana. Several of those charters also fall under the umbrella of the Recovery School District. Hill is also concerned that charter schools are not held to the same standards as public schools, and are also being given less dollars, in her eyes it creates an inequitable playing field.

For all of the education leaders, community activists and lawmakers who gathered in the library of Capitol High Thursday morning, one thing was clear; they're not happy with the way the recovery school district is handling business in East Baton Rouge parish.

"We need quality education. We have all the social ills that beg for and need a quality education in our community. I resent not being a part of the decision making process," added Dr. Jacqueline Mims, a former school board member and resident of the 70805.

So they groups have banded together, and have promised to start a discussion and push legislation to counter the RSD’s plans to close two schools and bring in several out of state charters.

"They have track records that have deficits, these are charters that have controversial issues in other states, these are charters that are not producing properly academically in other states, but we're going to bring them here to Louisiana to educate our children."

"This is our first step, I am sure that there will be other steps that we can take, we'll even talk about legislation together to see how we can coalesce on that together as well. But there will be some legislation filed," said Democratic state representative Pat Smith.

And even though no proposed laws have been written, those concerned feel that at least the conversation with the RSD has finally started.

"We want you to hear what we believe we need in order to satisfy our educational needs and our career needs etc."

The RSD will hold a series of informational parent meetings over the next few weeks to answer questions and concerns that parents may have.


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