Taylor criticizes media coverage
EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH SCHOOL Superintendent Bernard Taylor said he believes more of the district’s success and less of its shortcom- ings should be seen in the media.
“In this environment it seems so many other issues get attention than what our core business is (and that’s) educating children,” Taylor said on March 17 at a Baton Rouge Area Association of Black Journalists meeting.
Taylor said the media tend to focus on more sa- lacious stories instead of highlighting the schools’ striving to maintain aca- demic excellence.
“Our students are making a tremendous amount of progress over a very short period of time, they are the most important factor. The media isn’t tell- ing the story of the district, but the story of the student and what they’ve accomplished.”
According to ebrschools.org, some of the successes for the district include 42 percent of the schools having increased academic performance by one letter grade and 72 per- cent of schools having been deemed “academically ac- ceptable” by the state.
Taylor said he understands that not all students are alike and that the dis-rict prides itself on the many options it provides to students being educated, such as magnet programs, Montessori and visual and performing arts programs. Taylor also wants parents of special needs students to know that the system is striving to make sure those students are accommodated.
“One thing that we are going to highlight [is] the choices we offer to special- ed students. We educate students with severe physi- cal disabilities, autistic students, students with speech impediments, students with learning disabilities and students who have emotional disabilities that might impede their learn- ing, but there is no other entity in the community that does that in the totality [like this] school district does.”
During the past six years EBRPSS has strived to improve and is mere points away from becoming a B rated school district. This year 12 EBR schools improved their state rank- ing to “academically ac- ceptable” and more than 50 percent of the schools in the district are graded “C” or higher.
“I would dare to say we have seen more stories about fights than we have about an analysis of what the data is telling us.” Tay- lor said that biggest challenge EBRPSS is facing is getting people to under- stand that by working to- gether, the district will educate students successfully and that financially there are issues that will have to be addressed legislatively to ensure all students are afforded the best educational opportunities available to them.
EBR recently made headlines in Baton Rouge when the state ordered a review of the records of recent public high school graduates. The review was ordered when it was found that an area student gradu- ated without meeting state requirements. An audit completed on March 14 found that were other stu- dents who received grades or credits that differed from those the school system reported to the state.
According to the audit report, the school system has until April 4 to develop a corrective action plan to prevent such problems from recurring.
Released March 17, the audit also examined whether some students listed as transferring else- where should be consid- ered dropouts. It also fur- ther explores the case of the initial student records that sparked the audit.
“People make mis- takes, but at the end of the day there is nothing in the report that points to any level of malfeasance or staff altering the books. We’re talking about human error and unfortunately people make mistakes.” Taylor said he will meet with State Superintendent of Educa- tion John White to discuss the audit’s findings