2020 is here! We are celebrating a great win for the Tigers, exorcising the demons of the national title game eight years ago. Expectations and energy have returned and reached all-time highs for our Bayou Bengals football program, rightfully so. Similarly, 2020 offers us the chance to expect more for our success in the education field.
First, EBR will select its next superintendent this spring. We have made progress over the last few years in large part through the expansion of successful non-profit charter schools. These open-enrollment schools are the fastest-growing schools in our region both in terms of enrollment and academic achievement. These schools are the single-most promising answer to what remains our number one challenge in Baton Rouge – an unacceptably large number of students not being provided with the quality education they deserve. By working together with the district and state, we can continue to respond to family choices and expand what works. I believe this is the most important role and opportunity for our next school district leader. Their effectiveness in developing a system of high-quality schools versus a top-down traditional school system will have a cross-generational impact on Baton Rouge’s future. We should not expect any less.
Second, our state board of education will now have the opportunity to select its next superintendent. John White continued the path of previous superintendents and state boards to elevate standards for students, expand high-quality school choices, and empower educators. He is a friend and willing partner in leveraging the state’s power and policies to support better results for students. I’m grateful for his leadership and excited that this board can continue our tremendous run of progress. Graduation rates are at an all-time high, as are qualifying scores for college in the ACT and Advanced Placement exams. Growth of students academically statewide and among historically disadvantaged groups places Louisiana near the top nationally. Schools, educators, and students have responded to higher expectations and are delivering higher letter grades each year. We have also moved beyond the false narrative of college versus career to embrace meaningful opportunities for high school students. Louisiana is well-positioned to lead the nation in improving life outcomes for our citizens. We can reverse decades of challenges if we stay the course.
Both leaders will face increasingly complex challenges and potentially organized resistance. My hope and excitement for 2020 are that we join one team in expecting the best of our students and educators and knowing that when we do, they will deliver. New Schools for Baton Rouge will do its part to continue expanding great school options of any type and we look forward to deepening our partnership with the next superintendents.
Chris Meyer, CEO