I have been convinced for many years of the need to reform and enhance education at every level in Louisiana. I have personally been involved with reform efforts at the state Legislature and BESE, with higher education leaders and institutions, and in local efforts here in the East Baton Rouge Parish.
Part of my interest in education reform has to do with the fact that I have seen the impact that a decent education can have on a person’s life — including my own. Hard work and good ideas help make a person successful, but without a well-grounded and well-rounded education, success is much harder to come by.
Too many students in the remnants of the East Baton Rouge Parish school system are not getting the basic education they need to avail themselves of the growing number of jobs available in our state and region. Employment grew by 30,000 in Louisiana in the last year. Many more jobs are available but have not been filled due the lack of qualified applicants.
Every day, skilled workers from outside Louisiana come to the employment center at my company headquarters hoping to cash in on Louisiana’s industrial construction boom. My company at times has to rely on some of those out-of-state workers to fill immediate needs in our workforce. I dream of the day when every one of those quality jobs goes to a Louisiana worker, particular here in the Baton Rouge area. Unfortunately, with as much as $70 billion in the industrial construction pipeline, we aren’t close to achieving that goal. If we do not improve the first rungs on the education ladder here in Baton Rouge, we will be denying many of our kids the chance to benefit from those opportunities and more like them.
I have participated financially in elections for many years at all levels of government. A candidate’s stance on education reform has always been a critical factor when I decide which candidate to support. Our current school board races come at a critical time for our K-12 system. I really don’t care what political party the candidates belong to or what their views are on issues beyond giving our children the best education foundation they can receive. I do care about electing a strong majority on the board that will work cohesively to improve and advance the strategic plan, move more decisions from the central office to the school sites and hire the highest-quality superintendent possible to work with a board competent enough to handle the $440 million enterprise the voters entrust them with.
I encourage all voters in East Baton Rouge Parish to learn about the candidates and to support reform-oriented ones with contributions, volunteer efforts and votes.