Louisiana Education Officials Share Progress with U.S. Senators Breaux and Landrieu

Louisiana Education Officials Share Progress with U.S. Senators Breaux and Landrieu – Jun 21, 2002

Group Also Meets With U.S. Department of Education

Dr. Sally Clausen, president of the University of Louisiana System, Glenny Lee Buquet, co-chair of the state’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Teacher Quality, and five ULS campus presidents met with Louisiana’s U.S. senators and the U.S. Department of Education this week in Washington, D.C., to detail the state’s progress in accountability and partnerships among universities and Pre-K-12 schools.

“For so long, Louisiana has been at the bottom of national measures for education quality. But thanks to the work of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Blue Ribbon Commission and the Board of Regents, that picture has changed significantly,” said Dr. Clausen who arranged the trip.

The Louisiana educators met Wednesday with U.S. Senators John Breaux and Mary Landrieu, and with U.S. Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education Sally Stroup. The ULS campus presidents who attended the meetings were Dr. James Cofer, University of Louisiana at Monroe; Dr. Randy Moffett, Southeastern Louisiana University; Dr. Donald Ayo, Nicholls State University; Dr. Neari Warner, Grambling State University; and Dr. Randy Webb, Northwestern State University.

“We wanted to make sure that our U.S. Senators and the U.S. Department of Education were aware of Louisiana’s model work to raise education standards, to redesign teacher preparation programs and to create strong partnerships among universities and Pre-K-12 schools statewide,” Dr. Clausen said.

Buquet, former chair of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), said Louisiana has made great progress in education. “Our accountability programs are working, we’re ranked in the top five states nationally, and Louisiana has been recognized for its unique partnerships between universities and Pre-K-12 schools. The Education Trust, National Governor’s Association and others have recognized Louisiana’s progress.”

Buquet said Dr. Clausen’s recent election as vice president of the National Association of System Heads and as state representative to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities is another example of Louisiana’s national leadership.

Senators Breaux and Landrieu commended the UL-System and Dr. Clausen’s leadership and pledged to help the universities’ teaching and research activities.

“The University of Louisiana System is an outstanding organization, and I am proud of its accomplishments,” Sen. Breaux said. “Under the leadership of President Clausen, each university has built on its regional and academic strengths. Even with its limited resources, the System has kept its focus on fostering economic development by improving health care and education across Louisiana. I will continue working at the federal level to help advance their academic and research capabilities.”

Sen. Landrieu said, “Solid families are the strength behind a solid economy. It’s impossible to expect that our Department of Economic Development can bring business and jobs to the state without a qualified, competent and educated workforce. I am particularly impressed with the UL-System’s strong partnerships in the areas of teacher preparation and health care. The System is at the forefront of bringing Louisiana into the 21st Century.”

Dr. Clausen said Louisiana’s accountability programs, coordinated through the Blue Ribbon Commission, anticipated and took bold steps even before the national call for higher education standards reflected in President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind”

Universities today share the responsibility for higher student achievement in Pre-K-12 schools and are
redesigning their colleges of education to produce more certified, qualified teachers for Louisiana’s classrooms, Dr. Clausen said.

Dr. Clausen, a former classroom teacher, pioneered the teacher guarantee program when she was president of Southeastern and has made teacher preparation and teacher quality a priority for the UL-System. Today, every ULS university guarantees its teachers, and the colleges of education are redesigning their programs to ensure that all new teachers are certified and ready for the classroom.

The UL-System also is requiring that its teacher graduates pass the teacher certification exam, PRAXIS, before they can graduate.

“We believe in our graduates so much that we guarantee them,” Dr. Clausen said. “If any of our graduates need additional help once they enter the classroom, our universities will provide that extra help at no cost to the teachers or to the school districts.”

Dr. Clausen said today’s teacher must have deep content knowledge of the subjects taught, must be adept at
managing the classroom and must infuse technology throughout the curriculum. She said the System gives teacher candidates “real world” experience in Pre-K-12 classrooms.

“Every student in Louisiana has a right to a qualified, certified teacher,” Dr. Clausen said. “The education of a child and the health of a child should not depend on the wealth of a child.”

Dr. Clausen said the need for teachers is reaching critical proportions:
•Today in Louisiana, about 100,000 elementary and secondary students
are taught by unqualified or uncertified teachers
•Nationally, at least two million more teachers will be needed in six years
•Shortages exist especially in the areas of science, math, special education and foreign languages

She said the System also stresses quality by tying university funding to performance. In April, the System
awarded about $439,000 to its universities for their performance in several areas, including program
accreditation, student retention and graduation, reduction of remedial costs and hours taught, accomplishments in Unique Areas of Excellence, and financial and compliance audits.

The UL-System is the largest in Louisiana, enrolling nearly 80,000 students at eight universities and leading the state in the number of graduates in education, nursing, business and pharmacy.


For More Information Contact:
Catherine Heitman