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News > Governor's Column
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Jan 12, 2007
Education: Preparing Louisiana Students for Success

A column by Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy, his words remind me we cannot give up the fight for the children of Louisiana. He once observed, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."  We must strengthen our commitment to deliver quality education to every child in our state. 

Our determination is paying off. Louisiana remains nationally recognized for our efforts to improve teacher quality and student accountability.  Our work to provide quality Pre-K has also been celebrated and remains one of my top priorities. 

One of the greatest gifts we can provide to our children is a strong quality education.  Unfortunately not enough of Louisiana's children are taking full advantage of the educational opportunities before them. 

This month Education Week released a study claiming Louisiana ranks 49th when it comes to opportunities for children to succeed.  This study unfairly creates the impression that this is the bleak reality for all of Louisiana's children.  You and I know that is simply not true.   

When our children fully participate in the educational opportunities our schools offer, they are quite ready for college or career.  We should be proud our system successfully prepares children to compete in the national and global economies. 

But I insist we do even more.  Despite the opportunities we create for students to succeed, Education Week accurately points out the hurdles too many Louisiana children face.  We must reach out to children who come from generations of low literacy, who drop-out, and who live in poverty. Retaining those students in our educational system will go a long way in securing their future success. 

As I have always said, education is poverty's mortal enemy.  If we are to rescue our children from the grips of poverty, education is clearly their lifeboat.

Our challenge is clear -- to ensure our education system focuses on the course relevance, rigor and those invaluable relationships that give each child the comfort of knowing someone is rooting for their success.

To that end we will keep our foot on the accelerator when it comes to education reform.  Our next step will be to work with my High School Redesign Commission and the Department of Education to improve the way we educate students in high school. 

I believe with a focused effort we can cut the high school drop-out rate in half and rescue those students who are missing the boat to educational prosperity. 

Louisiana's education system must provide a ticket to future educational and career opportunities.  If we continue to set our sights high, I am confident Louisiana's children will more than live up to our expectations.  Let's give them every opportunity to succeed.