CadeBrumley

The work in Jefferson Parish Public Schools is extremely important — for at least 50,000 reasons. We’re Louisiana’s largest district and one of America’s 100 largest systems. Our student population reflects the diversity of our great country. All students — no matter their ability, ethnicity, income, race, religion, immigration status, sexual orientation, or gender — deserve our best. They all depend on us to get their education right.

The future of Jefferson Parish is at stake. The local economy, crime rates, health care, housing, and other life-quality indicators hinge on successful public schools. With the collective good on the line, there’s little room for noisy squawks or personal agendas — there’s too much to do. We need higher expectations and urgency to do more; be more — for kids, for families, for Jefferson, for Louisiana. That challenge is what drew me to this job.

I entered this system with a deliberate, sincere approach. I’ve studied data points, hosted conversations, and reflected on my practice. I’ve learned a lot.

There is much to praise in our district. We have some of Louisiana’s highest-performing schools. We employ a talented workforce committed to professional growth. Together, our almost 8,000 English-language learners speak over 40 languages. We connect schools, colleges, business, and industry. We uniquely equip students with empathy, compassion, tolerance, and readiness for global competition.

There are also challenges in our district. More than 80 percent of our students are economically disadvantaged. Our English-language learners have nearly tripled in the last 10 years. Most of our kids are not kindergarten-ready. We’ve declined in performance scores, ACT results, and graduation rates.

Providing a quality education, within an increasingly complex world, is a civil rights issue. Providing safe environments, learning opportunities, and promoting positive values is our moral obligation — all of ours. I’ve been impressed with the passion of our people and the potential for our students. We have many of the elements needed for success, but this will require action from all of us.

We need a sophisticated approach by educators, an informed commitment from our community, and authentic partnerships with advocates, civic associations, faith-based organizations, parent groups, public officials, and everyone in between. We must adhere to excellence and thoughtful implementation of evidence-based best practices and talent development. We must respect the hard work of our educators with strong leadership, ongoing support, and competitive pay. For our students and our parish, adult failure cannot be an option.

Successful organizations continuously improve. Unsuccessful organizations accept mediocrity. We have a choice: endure the status quo or take action. Ignore our next generation or embrace the call together. The consequences of inaction, for me, are unthinkable.

I choose action — the action necessary to make Jefferson the nation’s premier large, urban educational system. On behalf of our students and families, I choose action. On behalf of our noble educators, progressive board members, and community partners, I choose action. On behalf of our parish and state, I choose action.

I’m glad to be here. My sleeves are rolled up and I’m working. I rise every morning knowing my top responsibility is student safety and my top priority is student learning. I end every night having placed the needs of kids first. This work is too monumental for any of us, but it is manageable if we share the load. I believe the best is yet to come for the Jefferson Parish Public School System. You must join me. We have at least 50,000 reasons to work together.

Cade Brumley is superintendent of Jefferson Parish schools.