MELERINE: Correcting LACAG On The BESE Accountability Vote

I have been disheartened to learn that the citizens of Louisiana have been so easily led astray by false information regarding the accountability proposal voted on at last week’s BESE meeting. Simply put, in my opinion, last week’s proposal was an attempt to pass a new policy in order to claim victory, without making the meaningful changes to the accountability system that would drive improved education in Louisiana.

Speaking only for myself, I can assure the citizens of Louisiana that my vote against the accountability proposal was not a vote against Superintendent Brumley, the business community, or the citizens of this great State; our visions for improving Louisiana align much more often than not.  I voted to ensure meaningful long-term improvement to the education system would be made, instead of, as all to often happens in Louisiana, trading long-term benefits for short-term gains.

We cannot improve the economic outlook of Louisiana without first addressing the fact many of our youngest students cannot read and perform basic math.  The proposed formula did not address these core and underlying issues.  Following the August BESE meeting, I expressed concerns I had about the proposal to the Department of Education and the business community.  I even offered solutions to these concerns and asked that the solution(s) be included in the final proposal so that we could make the meaningful changes needed to put us on the path towards fixing some of the issues facing Louisiana.

One of the main concerns I expressed was that the proposed formula allowed elementary and middle schools to be awarded points under the “growth” component even if a student actually regressed during the school year.  That a school could be rewarded for “growing” a child when in fact that child ended the year further behind than they began the year was apparently fine with those that drafted the final proposal because my proposed solution was not included.  I was not notified that my solution was not being included in the final proposal and discovered it myself not long before the meeting.  By then, my chance of fixing the flaw in the proposal had almost no chance of passing.  I tried one last time to fix the issue during the meeting but the motion to amend failed.

Without this addition I could not, and would not, vote for the proposal, as it would simply continue rewarding the lowering of expectations.

I want nothing more than to fix our education system and I hope we are able to fix the flawed accountability system because everyone benefits when there is a simple and clear process to measure how well a school is performing.  However, I am unwilling to take short-cuts and sacrifice long-term success in order to tout a victory today. Voting to approve the proposed policy would have done just that, which is why I voted no.

Michael Melerine
4th BESE District

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