Lafayette has been toasted as the Crown Jewel of Louisiana. Our publicly educated students have proven they can compete with the best and win.
But that jewel has had a serious flaw. Thirty percent of our students do not finish the race, and a significant number are not proficient when they do finish. Do the math. Thirty percent. That means 9,000 of 30,000 our students did not graduate.
Enter Dr. Pat Cooper and his “100% In, 100% Out Turnaround Plan” for the Lafayette Public School System. In just its first year of adoption and implementation, the results are already apparent. You can see it and feel it. We have a bona fide written plan. Go to Northside High School, or to a Lafayette Parish School Board meeting, or the halls of the central office. Talk about it in the community. Folks are excited. Expectations are high. Facilities are being renewed at a fraction of the projected costs. The silos are coming down. It is beginning to operate as the third-of-a-billion dollar enterprise that it is.
Remarkably, the cause and the effects of these changes are bigger than public education. They are integral to the essence of our community and our ability to compete in the world.
Take three examples: health care, early childhood education and technology. All three are essential components to the Turnaround Plan. All three are essential components to a high-quality community. All three have been lacking, at best, until now.
But there is more. We learned at the recent well attended, highly informative school board retreat that our French Immersion program has a profound impact upon student learning that increases over time. And that the Community Foundation of Acadian has partnered with the school system to direct private contributions to specific improvements. And we have subject matter professionals leading departments such as human resources, health and wellness, and community relations. And we are starting to address our facilities on a very cost-effective basis.
Mission accomplished? Not yet. The wheels are in motion but much remains to be done, and community involvement is essential to sustain this momentum and achieve our goal of 100% In, 100% Out.
A great way to get up to speed is by attending Dr. Cooper’s “Progress Report from the Front Line” on Nov. 14 at noon in the Picard Center, 200 Devalcourt (by LITE and LEDA).
Gary McGoffin, Lafayette
LaPESC Public Relations Chairman