Sunday, March 12, 2017 ….. 9:14 A.M.

The Caddo Parish School Board met Thursday night about closing schools. Not.

The spotlight was on Superintendent Lamar Goree’s plan to close three failing – “F” graded – schools: Atkins and Queensborough Elementary, and Lakeshore Middle.

For more detail, here is the KSLA-TV report:

The most odious charge leveled by school-closing opponents was that any such thinking is a racist plot. Leading that charge was local NAACP official Lloyd Thompson:

“We’ve got to slow (this) train down … ‘need to have education centers on my side of town … instead of closing all the schools on my side of the track.”

Nasty worked. By Friday afternoon, Goree folded. Atkins and Queensborough were off the table.

Here is the KSLA-TV report of Goree’s flip-flop:

Notably quoted in the context of Goree’s skedaddle from the right thing was a local minister. Here is that Shreveport Times comment:

“Timothy Jones, senior pastor at Peaceful Rest Missionary Baptist Church, said children and families have been ‘betrayed’ by the Caddo Parish School Board. Jones’ church is located near Atkins Elementary.”

This drama is mainly about big bucks – NOT ridding the system of failing and unnecessary schools.

When Caddo Parish public schools racially merged almost a half-century ago, in 1970, total enrollment was 60,000-62,000 children.

Now, even after adding huge age categories of children not then attending our schools – such as pre-K / K-4, and “children” up to 20 years old – our enrollment last October was down to 39,199.

Yes, some 36% fewer students … but just as many schools and/or repurposed school facilities.

No, this is not about race. This is about money … and population decline.

Both as a volunteer chairing three CPSB citizen task forces over the years, and professionally, I began studying all of this in 1984. Here is a statement I made to the Shreveport Times on the key issue:

“It is no great joy of mine, as a lifelong citizen of Caddo Parish, to have to tell you that we are in the midst of a drastic population decline. It’s another world outside of (Southeast Shreveport) … We’ve been lulled into believing we (are) back on the move here. What we did was deny the numbers.”

That was June 17, 1999.

To forecast the system’s future enrollment, then-Superintendent James Foster contracted with my company for a geo-demographic study. I presented the findings to Dr. Foster / CPSB on August 4, 1999.

The worst news was a marked drop of children in Caddo Parish, looming just ahead of us.

Since 1996-1997, our school system has lost 1-in-5 students … 21.0%. In total, -10,430 students, from 49,629 down to 39,199.

The total Caddo Parish population did not likewise collapse.

Between July 1, 1997 and most recent Census Bureau data of July 1, 2015, Caddo has lost -525 residents, or 0.2%, two-tenths-of-one-percent … from 252,025 down to 251,460.

Very importantly, the CPSB – while refusing to close emptying schools – has raked-in a doubling of taxpayer money, after adjusting for inflation.

Some of this money – notably, federal Title I – flows through CPSB to neighborhood areas and entities, such as churches.

Thus, notable opponents face losing such money if “their” schools are closed.

Opponents also hope we ignore that all Louisiana schools are objectively graded by the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) … not anyone here. Is the LDOE racist?

(Here is our current Report Card: http://www.louisianabelieves.com/data/reportcards/2016/)

Not including CPSB non-traditional “schools,” here is how our schools are graded by LDOE …

… F-graded – 17
… D – 24
… C – 6
… B – 10
… A – 9

Succinctly put, nearly two-of-three CPSB schools … 62.1% … are “failing” with grades of “F” or “D.”

Thus, my February 2016 article, “The Undeclared State of Emergency in Caddo Schools”:

If the CPSB acts only to best educate our children, they will shutter our schools consistently graded “F,” whatever neighborhood that school is in …

… and the Devil take the hindmost.

© 2017 Elliott Stonecipher … ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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