Ferriday has vision for victory

Published 12:06 am Friday, August 5, 2011

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Ferriday Upper Elementary’s receptionist Ronda Bradford, left, helps Miranda Spurs register her child during the Vision to Victory Back-to-School Parent Resource Fair Thursday afternoon at Ferriday High School.

FERRIDAY — In a crowded gymnasium at Ferriday High School, a group of approximately 300 concerned residents gathered without the comfort of air conditioning to discuss how to get more parental involvement in Ferriday students’ educations.

“We need more parents positively involved in their children’s education,” district parent involvement coordinator Dorothy Parker said. “It is proven that any time parents are involved in a child’s education in a positive way, children always do better in school.”

Concordia Parish School Board Superintendent Loretta Blankenstein said Ferriday’s Vision to Victory Back-to-School Parent Resource Fair was started to help raise school performance scores in the town by getting help from area parents.

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“Parents, we need your help,” she said. “Every school receives a score based on student performance, and every state test for every student counts toward the score.”

Blankenstein said other things like attendance and dropout rates also go toward a school’s score.

Blankenstein said the Louisiana Department of Education listed Ferriday High School, Ferriday Junior High School, Ferriday Lower Elementary School and Ferriday Upper Elementary School on the “academic watch list”

Ferriday’s alternative school, Concordia Education Center, was placed on list of “academically unacceptable schools.”

Blankenstein said all the Ferriday schools placed on the watch list improved from the previous year, but thanks to a five-point boost in minimum mark needed to avoid the unacceeptable label more schools were placed on the list.

The list that came out July 25 named 153 schools from around the state on the watch list. The list included every school that had a SPS lower than 75.

While no school on the watch list currently faces sanctions, failure to bring the score above 75 for the next year will place a school on the academically unacceptable list.

“We have to reach 75 or above,” Blankenstein said to the crowd of parents. “We are telling you we can’t do this without you. We have to stand together on this issue, so we can show everyone what Ferriday can do.”

School board member Fred T. Butcher addressed the crowd to remind parents that teachers can’t do everything for their students.

“You are responsible for your child,” he said. “Ferriday test scores will never go up until we get help from the parents.”

Butcher said the schools in Ferriday can raise their scores if parents and teachers learn to work together on educating the children.

“We need everyone to make sure they take care of their responsibilities,” he said. “If the parents takes care of theirs, and the teachers do the same, there are going to be some positive results for everyone. It is a cooperative effort.”

After the initial meeting, parents where then allowed to break off by school to go meet their children’s teachers to help further strengthen parent-teacher involvement.

“I can’t believe some parents don’t want to come meet who is going to be teaching their child,” Ferriday resident and parent George Sherman said. “You need to know what the teachers expect from the students, so you know what to expect when they get home from school.”

Kristin Jones, parent of two Ferriday school students said she was also glad to meet her children’s teachers.

“My kids are sneaky, and I know if I meet their teachers, I can keep in contact to make sure they are telling me everything they are working on, and what I need to be focused on at home,” she said. “Times are different than they used to be, and if you aren’t watching your kids, you or they can be missing out.”

Parker said while getting help from parents will help with academics and attendance, the District Attorney’s office has also said it will get involved in suspensions and truancy cases to help alleviate problems.