Public schools are the backbone of the community and reflect the value that citizens place on their neighbor. Strong public schools raise entire communities, provide better opportunities, deter crime, improve the workforce and encourage economic development. The people of East Baton Rouge have not given up on public schools and that is why Beyond Bricks EBR exists.
Excellence for Public Schools
Beyond Bricks EBR is a process driven by volunteers looking to gather input from the entire community on how to drive excellence within our school system. Beginning with a series of facilitated conversations, the process will capture the community’s vision for education and then determine the changes that need to occur to fulfill that vision.
The state of public education in East Baton Rouge Parish is steadily improving, but with additional changes, we believe this improvement can happen more rapidly. And now is the time. One cannot deny that there is an excitement and energy throughout the community and 2015 offers us a chance to accelerate the path to what we all want—excellent public schools for all our children.
But what exactly makes an excellent school? What does the community believe must be done to reach excellence? What needs to change? What new academic offerings are needed? What technology? What strategies for increasing parental involvement?
What Makes Beyond Bricks EBR Different?
In the past, we know there have been studies undertaken, best practices conducted and similar initiatives developed to help guide public education efforts. However, Beyond Bricks EBR is different in the fact that it is a grassroots effort driven by the community—not policy makers, local businesses, the school system or a single organization. We hope to create a true engagement process centered on community partnership where people come together on equal footing and move beyond the mindset of “my child” to “our children.”
How Will We Gather the Information?
There were 14 Listening Sessions throughout the East Baton Rouge Parish School District, as well as dialogue with the EBRPSS Senior Cabinet, principals and teachers. The sessions were held at local churches, community centers, BREC facilities, and schools. Every site had area co-host leaders (a member of the Interfaith Federation of Greater Baton Rouge), and a facilitator at each table. At each session, there was a 10-minute visual presentation (on Listening Events Page), followed by table discussions led by a facilitator. All information has been gathered and and will be built into the community’s vision for education excellence. The Listening Sessions were open to everyone in the community.
The goal of Beyond Bricks EBR is to be a catalyst to help the community determine what it wants—to be an effective vehicle for change where the community can come, share ideas, and participate.
After our facilitated community conversations, a list of standards, expectations policies, and initiatives will be developed to shape the educational experience of our children. As the community lays out this framework for success, we will build a process that survives the inevitable changes that occur—such as system leadership, new teachers/staff and parental involvement—and continues to advance and re-charge our schools and the community’s participation in public education.
However, we all must understand that the past deficiencies of public education in EBR cannot be blamed on the school system, teachers, students or parents. It is a challenge for our entire community that we must all overcome. We hope you join Beyond Bricks EBR as we strive to create a public school system worthy of excellence and worthy of our students.
The following organizations have been integral in designing this initiative and/or supporting its success. Add your organization to this list by emailing info@beyondbricksEBR.org
Baton Rouge Association for Gifted and Talented Students (2600 students)
Baton Rouge Youth Coalition
BRAC Leadership Alumni Assoication
The Children’s Coalition of Greater Baton Rouge (30 organizations)
EBRP Association of Educators
EBR Federation of Teachers
The EBRP Minister’s Conference (multi-member organization)
EBRP School System
EBRPSS Pre-K Services
EBRP School Board
Foundation for East Baton Rouge School System
Guaranty Broadcasting-The Clarence Buggs Show
Health Centers in Schools
Interfaith Federation of Greater Baton Rouge (55 organizations)
J.K. Haynes Charter School
LA Delta Service Corp
LSU Public Administration Institute
Louisiana Association of Educators
The Manship Theatre
One Community One School District
Teach for America
Women in Ministry