HomeNEWSBATON ROUGEBaton Rouge Educators Talk the Politics of Education (Event Recap)

Baton Rouge Educators Talk the Politics of Education (Event Recap)

The Politics of Education: Midnight Brunch took place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on December 13th. The panel conversation was led by local entrepreneur, Brad Gordon of Brad Gordon International, LLC while the event was powered by Gordon’s new non-profit, The Renaissance.

Though it was a calmly moderated panel, that doesn’t change the many harsh truths these educators and professionals shared about how politics affects education, which is an important topic to discuss ahead of the expected changes to come in East Baton Rouge Parish with the recent incorporation of the City of St. George and the community preparing for an EBR Superintendent.

Brad Gordon at Politics of Education
Brad Gordon moderating Politics of Education panel.

Former educator Elle Williams was the first to speak during the panel. Williams worked in education in various capacities for 10 years, before she experienced burnout.

Williams says, “I think that the initiatives that are constantly being pushed out because of the political agendas bring about a lot of stress on the teachers and the instructional leaders. It brings about a lot of stress because the agendas are rolled out without any thought but being rolled out with political purposes. It’s agenda, after agenda.” She later admitted that she “has sat at tables that I wish I wasn’t invited to”, recalling that it was pointless to try to persuade her colleagues and higher-ups’ when their minds are already made up.

Licensed clinical social worker Avis Brown spoke from a standpoint of both the students and the educators. She believes that many of the behavioral problems we see in students are a cry for help and the disciplinary actions that are inflicted often hinder them more than help, as the trouble students are often placed in detention centers and not receiving adequate academic instruction.

Licensed clinical social worker Avis Brown Politics of Education Baton Rouge
Avis Brown, LCSW

Brown thinks that students should be viewed as individuals with many layers but then asks how can one do that as an educator when they have all these other things that are a priority. “You’re looking at test scores, and you want to teach to the curriculum-and you want to there’s just a lot of things that our kids are dealing with”, Brown says.

Assistant Professor of Southern University A&M College Department of Education, Dr. Tonya Rose, whose job is to groom students and get them ready for the Praxis test shared that one regulation that is holding many students back from being able to move forward with their teaching careers, is the fact that they have to complete a one-year residency program.

“The issue with our students is over 85% of our students receive financial aid, so who can afford to take a year off from work to work for free so you can graduate?” Dr. Rose asks.

Before this program, students had to perform their student teaching for only one semester, which was usually their last semester of school.

To add insult to injury, the latest challenge Dr. Rose’s department at Southern University is now facing is to prove their department is worth continuing. She and her colleagues were informed of this review by the Southern University Board of Accreditation the day of the panel, which means as Dr. Rose says, she and her crew will be spending Christmas break working to “prove why we should exist past 2020”.

Dr. Rose also noted that the board tends to consist of non-educators and business owners.

Upon Dr. Rose’s announcement, Dr. Rani Whitfield shared that he is on Southern University’s Board of Supervisors and that they are under constant pressure to cut more programs, and unfortunately, the education department is a victim of that. Dr. Whitfield believes it is all about business and money. In short, he explained that the rise in non-traditional students, who may not be as equipped as the traditional college students for standardized tests, may be weighing down the grades of the department as a whole.

“It is not because they are not smart. It’s just because they didn’t get the access or resources they needed coming up, “the physician and documentarian furthered explained.

Therefore the board is faced with cutting the programs that are not faring well, which is why the medicinal cannabis program is so important.

The panel concluded with Gordon invited panelists and guests to attend a school board meeting which took place at Woodlawn High School on December 17th and to take part in the East Baton Rouge School District survey at https://ebrschools.org/news/parent-survey/ , while encouraging them to stay abreast of the hiring selection of the incoming superintendent.

The event took place at 520 Spain Event Center located at 520 Spain Street Baton Rouge, LA. Chef Justin David Williams provided brunch with sounds by DJ Kalvo.

The Renaissance is a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower, educate, and increase social capital in the Greater Baton Rouge Area. To learn more about The Renaissance, click here.

Watch the full panel from our live video footage below.

Francheska Felder
Francheska Felderhttp://swagheronline.com
Francheska “Fancy” Felder is an award-winning editor, publisher, publicist, and quiet Southern media mogul. In 2010, she launched SwagHer Magazine, an empowerment and lifestyle publication for the Black woman who likes to keep it real, which also doubles as a PR boutique. SwagHer Magazine uses positive media and storytelling to create new narratives and mindsets around Black women, their communities, and the businesses and organizations they lead, while the boutique strategically executes press and brand campaigns. The proud SU alum is also the publicist for Power Influence Radio and hostess of the CEO Chatter LIVE Podcast. Because she battles with bipolar disorder, Fancy is a proud mental health advocate.
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