School board approves purchase of textbooks - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

School board approves purchase of textbooks

(Source: Erica Bivens / KPLC) (Source: Erica Bivens / KPLC)

July 22, the Calcasieu Parish School Board's Curriculum and Instruction Committee approved buying the remaining Common Core aligned textbooks for the upcoming school year.

Tuesday, the board voted, but not before several people testified.

Testifiers ranged from teachers to parents and school officials. And concerns were many, whether they were for or against the approval of the textbooks.

Before Tuesday's Calcasieu Parish School Board meeting, opponents of Common Core protested outside.

Many like Carol Dufrene, a concerned grandparent, hoped the board would hold off on the purchase of the remaining Common Core aligned textbooks, "at least until the state gets things in order with all the lawsuits and so forth we have no idea how long that will be."

Inside, more testified the board was already $600,000 over their original budget. For elementary school teacher Bridget Richard, who almost lost her job due to budget cuts, the money could be better spent.

"The cuts were due to a lack of funds. We were over budget, we couldn't afford teachers," explained Richard.

Leslie Truax says she just pulled her third grader out of public school because of it.

"When she was marked wrong for a problem and she's a straight-A student because she didn't answer it a specific way, she got partial credit. She was frustrated. It was not rigorous, it was tedious," said Truax.

Superintendent Karl Bruchhaus chimed in; stating the debate tonight over Common Core isn't Calcasieu's debate.

"It's Louisiana's debate, maybe the nation's debate, but we adhere to the standards adopted by BESE," said Bruchhaus.

Other proponents say teachers trained all summer on the new curriculum, with many asking for materials - rather than having to look for and print them.

Plus, elementary school teacher Fara Seal says, "even if we don't continue with Common Core the textbooks can still be used in the classroom."

As for comments on the new curriculum containing specific scripts for teachers, Bruchhaus says it's only meant to guide teachers that may need it.

Therefore, Carol Shelton, Principal of DeQuincy Elementary says it, "does not do away with creativity in the classroom. It gives teachers the tools they need."

But board members had mixed feelings.

Board President, Annette Ballard says, "I will support this."

"It's not about textbooks tonight, it's about control. That's why I can't support this," said CPSB member Bryan LaRocque.

Board member Billy Breaux added, "Yeah, I'm struggling with this."

Many board members said they were torn on the issue. Some questioned whether certain content was age appropriate. Others wondered why there wasn't a public review on the books before they were bought.

In the end, the board approved the remaining textbook purchases.

Voting for the textbooks: Annette Ballard, Joe Andrepont, Mack Dellafosse, Fredman Hardy, Jim Schooler, Bill Jongbloed, Clara Duhon, and Dale Bernard,

Voting against the textbooks: Billy Breaux, Randy Burleigh, Chad Guidry, James Karr, Bryan LaRocque, and R.L. Webb.

Absent: Roman Thompson.

In other board action, changes to the alternative programs were approved unanimously. 
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