This letter to the editor penned by Heather Blanchard of Parents Empowered calls on the Lafayette Parish School Board to prove why its investigation of Superintendent Pat Cooper is a necessity.
At Parents Empowered, our mission is to ensure that the public school system remains focused on improvement and forward motion.
We advocate for research-based reforms, more effective parent involvement at the school and district level, and a renewed focus on our children.
Therefore, we must express our concern over the decision by the Lafayette Parish School Board to hire an attorney to investigate the school superintendent. This open-ended, disruptive investigation will only serve to take the focus away from the reforms that our children deserve.
The school board has failed to provide enough detail to show why this investigation is warranted. Without more detail, it appears this is a politically motivated investigation, driven by personality clashes, turf wars and special interests. The school board should not proceed until it is able to establish to parents, taxpayers, and voters how this investigation will benefit students.
This investigation is also likely to be expensive and distracting. Our system is facing the prospect of a multi-million dollar budget cut, despite the fact that we currently have a historically high budget reserve. Surely it would be wiser for the board and superintendent to turn their attention to getting the fiscal house in order.
Finally, the constant battle at board meetings is obscuring the fact that our schools are improving. Although state-level policies like Common Core curriculum and charter schools have sometimes caused some parents frustration and confusion, local-level reforms have begun to turn around our failing schools and benefit our children.
As parents, we know that we are not "experts" on education. But we know from our own professional experiences that proper governance relies on clear lines of accountability.
The superintendent was hired to implement a turnaround plan for our schools that relies on a renewed focus on children's health and well-being, school-level reforms led by strong, empowered principals, and a recognition that every child can learn, so long as the right support system is in place.
We would encourage the school board to focus on holding the superintendent accountable for producing results that benefit our children rather than lingering over policy disagreements and personnel decisions. He should be judged by the metric of student progress, and by that metric alone.
Parents in our public school system come from all walks of life, but we all love our kids and want them to get the most out of their school experience. Our community depends on a thriving public education system as well.
We ask the school board to either show how this investigation will make our children's education prospects better, or drop it and put the focus back on our children.
Heather Blanchard is a founding member of Parents Empowered - a group of Lafayette parents that came together last year to raise parental awareness about school system issues.