HAMMOND–Tangipahoa Parish School Board member Betty Robinson is highly critical of the superintendent of Tangipahoa Parish Schools Mark Kolwe and she questions the number of failing schools.
“I have three failing schools in my district,” Robinson said. “Hammond Junior High, Woodland Park, and Westside Elementary, all these school having failing grades. It not the educational system; it is the Superintendent Mark Kolwe is to blame. He is not an educator.”
Robinson said, “Another problem we have in the school system is that our children are being taught by uncertified teachers.”
“Everytime a failing school gets a principal who turns around a school, the superintendent will transfer that principal. (For example) Terran Perry was turning around Hammond Junior High, a failing school,” she said.
“The tax payers can change the school system, and remove the superintendent by attending school board meeting in record numbers and challenge how their tax dollars are spent,” she said.
According to Robinson, the school board has hired a public relations firm to produce information about a proposed tax that will appear on the November ballot.
“I cannot support a tax. I don’t trust them with the money, and the community doesn’t trust the system. If the tax passes, the majority of the money will go to Ponchatoula High,” she said. “We must vote against the tax.”
Robinson said her trouble with the school board started on November 3, 2015, when she was sworn in. “I did not received new members’ orientation until 2016–14 months later,” she said.
In a letter to The Drum, Robinson wrote:
The recent report ranking our city as being among the worst cities to raise a child hit hard. The reason is that this is a direct reflection of our educational system. Citizens need board members to be open and honest with them about the state of education.
Likewise, board members need a superintendent who is courageous enough to be honest and open about these matters with us. We cannot go on pretending like everything is great when national reports state otherwise as this makes us appear uncivilized. I understand politics, but the well being of children and families is far too important to play politics. We simply cannot afford to do so. Doing so has caused the outcome seen nationally.
Our parish it’s cities and towns are a jewel. However, a better job must be done with our schools.
The superintendent of over a decade owes local mayors, business leaders, civic leaders and especially families answers as to why our system is in this current condition. And please, do not continue to place blame on money.
People are tired of this excuse and have stated that they will invest when they can trust that their dollars will be effectively spent on improving educational outcomes for all children. Would you believe that one of the highest ranking school districts in our country actually spends less than we do per pupil? Go figure.
It is about effectively prioritizing and managing what you have, and our data points out that prioritizing funds starting with what is in the very best interests of children has definitely not been an area of strength for our system’s leadership.
An entire decade has passed, and this is the outcome. We must do better in assisting our parish’s cities and towns by doing our part in securing leadership that we know can improve system wide academic outcomes so that we all can reap the benefits of having a district filled with high ranking schools.
Betty C. Robinson
School Board Member
Tangipahoa Parish District G
By Eddie Ponds
The Drum Founding Publisher