Concordia Academy is a great school

Published 12:01 am Thursday, May 10, 2018

Dear Editor:

On Thursday at 6 p.m. at the school board office the Concordia Parish School Board will discuss the future of Concordia Parish Academy of Math Science and Technology. One option would be to close the high school portion. This would be a loss to the community.

Concordia Parish Academy is one of the most diverse schools in the state of Louisiana. It is an innovative program mirroring some of the most pioneering schools in the nation.

Email newsletter signup

Students from all backgrounds work together at CPA: in class you will see the son of an alderman building a robot with the daughter of a mechanic.

In 1954, the United States Supreme Court mandated the integration of public schools stating “separate education facilities are inherently unequal.”

Many schools across this country have positive results to show after integration. In segregated school districts students may not have equitable access to resources and teachers. In diverse schools, students share resources across different groups. This leads to reductions in disparities in academic achievement.

In a world that is becoming more diverse, our students need to develop the ability to interact across lines of difference. Students who interact in diverse settings are more likely to befriend students of other backgrounds leading to positive views of people different from ourselves.

Unfortunately, the intentions of integration did not live out in reality.

In a ruling that was meant to bring people together, it pushed community further apart. Families that wanted what they perceived as the best for their child, have left the school district.

CPA and Vidalia High have racially diverse populations. CPA has a student population of 53 percent white students, 39 percent black and 8 percent other. Ferriday and Monterey high schools have less diversity. At FHS 94 percent of students are black and at MHS 97 percent of students are white.
Other schools including Delta Charter and Cathedral have a majority of white students. Other surrounding schools have almost exclusively white or black populations.

However, nationally, school districts are taking innovative approaches to bring people together. One approach is to create magnet schools that incentivize parents to join the district. Having integrated schools may be more expensive. Research has shown 3-5 times return on investment.

CPA is the only school in the immediate area that actively seeks a diverse population across different communities. They are trying to create opportunities for all students, not because it is court-ordered, but because they believe in the potential of all students.

This is a community school. They accept students across different groups: rich/poor, black/white, Vidalia/Ferriday. You walk into the school and you will see students from all backgrounds sitting, eating, and playing together. On a field trip to Washington, D.C., you will see a bus with students from every background learning together.

CPA is preparing leaders. Entice families with opportunities and a quality education and they will come. Don’t close a great school and force more students to leave the district. That’s not good for our students or the district.

Adam Gordon, M.Ed.
Teacher at Concordia Parish Academy of Math, Science and Technology