The coalition of independent civic groups working to improve public education in Lafayette Parish has increased its membership with the addition of three new member organizations joining the Lafayette Parish Public Education Stakeholders Council.

According to LaPESC President Margaret Trahan, executive director of LaPESC member organization United Way of Acadiana, the number of groups representing LaPESC is now 13: United Way of Acadiana, 100 Black Men of Greater Lafayette, Citizens Actions Council, Concerned Citizens for Good Government, Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Southwest Louisiana Black Chamber of Commerce, State of Greater Black Lafayette, The705, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the Lafayette Parish School System, the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Pugh Family Foundation, and the Upper Lafayette Economic Development Foundation.

The sheriff’s office, the Pugh Family Foundation and the Upper Lafayette Economic Development Foundation all joined LaPESC this year, which brings the collective membership of the group to more than 6,000 stakeholders. The other 10 civic groups and agencies are founding members of LaPESC, though the Lafayette Parish School System withdrew its membership when LaPESC began planning candidate forums for board elections (LPSS actually announced its withdrawal to the media before letting LaPESC know it was pulling out). The school system rejoined LaPESC soon after Lafayette Parish School System Superintendent Pat Cooper took over as head of Lafayette Parish public schools.

LaPESC pledges in its bylaws a “common commitment ... to identify roadblocks to educational attainment for children living in poverty, who are mostly African-American, and to advocate for solutions to those barriers.”

LaPESC members have played a critical role in bringing in a qualified superintendent, and they’ve also served on Cooper’s 10 task forces that crafted his proposed six-year district turnaround plan.

“LaPESC really values open dialogue, transparency, accountability, communication and partnership,” Trahan said during Tuesday’s LaPESC-sponsored community forum on Cooper’s turnaround plan. “I think the process that was used to create the plan, all of this speaks to the values we have as an organization, hopefully values that you share as well.”

Read more on Cooper's turnaround plan here and here.

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