State Superintendent John White addresses the state of education

State Superintendent John White
State Superintendent John White

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Do our Louisiana kids stack up against school children in other states? State Superintendent John White says public education here is not where it should be. Wednesday, the state's top educator laid down some goals for the upcoming year.

Offering vouchers to students to get out of failing schools was the start of fixing the problem in public schools, says White. He added there are fewer children in failing schools, but by his department's calculations, there are still 63,000 students in a school labeled as F.

"It's okay to say we're not where we need to be yet. It's okay to say its hard...struggle together," White told the audience at a school in Jefferson Parish.

For example, he says 49 percent of students in the state graduate high school and go on to study at a four year school. Of those, 19 percent graduate with a four year degree. Another 15 percent earn an associates degree.

White says its apparent educators need to do a better job of preparing students for both higher education or a career. Along the same line, White said he was shocked to learn that just one out of three special needs children ever graduate from high school.

Something else that needs to be addressed, he says, only 54 percent of kindergartners recognize the 26 letters of the alphabet or are able to count to 20. White says the state Department of Education will be starting a pilot program to monitor three and four year olds and what they are learning, prior to that first day of elementary school.

There are some gains, however. White says fewer students are dropping out of school and more kids are performing on grade level. But to address some of the other problems, teachers will be getting more freedom in the classroom to address the needs of their students.

"We owe it to our kids to give them every opportunity to realize the American dream right here in Louisiana," White said.

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