Calcasieu Parish renews Bruchhaus’ contract

     Let me start by saying that this is not meant to be a condemnation, or personal attack, on Superintendent, Karl Bruchhaus. The purpose is to raise public awareness about the actions of their elected board members, and to facilitate a discussion about whether, or not, they are acting in the best interest of our children.
      I was out of town when this meeting took place, and I had great difficulty watching the video stream that was provided by someone in attendance. Two weeks in advance of this meeting, a request was made for a copy of the contract that was being considered. Once received, the contract was forwarded to a number of people who write about education issues, including myself. I read through the contract and made notes of the things that stood out. I then emailed all of the school board members and copied the superintendent. I expressed my concerns with some of the language in the contract which, if corrected, I felt, would be in the superintendent’s favor. I’ve still not seen the final contract, but from what I am hearing, these concerns weren’t addressed, excluding one attempt made by board member, Mack Dellafosse. Some were questioned, but attempts to address them were squelched.
 
     These were my major concerns:
  1. The language in the targets effectively delays taking action on the superintendent’s performance until the end of the four year contract. This essentially means that the district score can plummet for four years, but the superintendent can’t be removed short of a criminal act, or “buying out” his contract, which could be in excess of 1/4 million dollars.
  2. The targets are expressed in “percentage points” instead of “percentages.” This is the very language that had teachers across the district crying at the end of the year, because they didn’t meet their SLT goals. When you score a 40% on a pretest and your goal is an increase of 20 “percentage points,” you have to score a 60% to meet your goal. That is actually a 50% increase, and a somewhat unachievable goal. If the goal is a 20% increase, then scoring 48% would make your goal.
  3. The “saving clause” effectively removes all accountability for the construction of the contract by saying that if any clause of the contract doesn’t fall within the law, it doesn’t make the contract invalid. This is total BS to save the attorney’s butt instead of doing his homework. The law in Act 1 clearly states that if any provisions of a contract don’t meet the requirements of Act 1; the contract is null and void.
 
     In the interview, the superintendent says,
The sole measure of success, I’m here to tell you, is not the letter grade, but the evaluation is based on the objectives.”
 
     I have to agree with this statement, in general. If the objectives aren’t met, the letter grade will reflect that. Most people would agree that the letter grade isn’t anywhere near representative of a school’s success; however, the letter grade is the State’s sole indicator of success, or failure; the indicator by which educators are held accountable. The letter grade is a direct reflection of test performance. An educator can lose tenure, be put on an “intensive assistance plan,” and even be terminated for poor test scores, yet the superintendent is safe from this accountability as long as the board thinks he is trying hard. Here is a fact that they are missing. TRYING HARD, BUT NOT GETTING IT DONE=INEFFECTIVE.
      I make no secret about how I feel about the academic leader of a district never setting foot in a classroom. The superintendent knows how I feel, and to an extent, understands why I, or anyone else, would have the same problem. There are board members who think that there are things that need to be accomplished that can only be done with a “business minded” person in the seat, and the CAO can handle the academics of the district. Think about that for a moment. That means that the board’s priority is money, and that academics are secondary.
      Here is what I say to the board. If you truly believe that the person in the seat is the right person, regardless of professional background, then hold him accountable for the performance of the district. Period. Not for some other vague, or “nonexistent” goal that clearly needs to be discussed, publicly.
      What we hear repeatedly from board members is that they are acting on behalf of their constituents, and they aren’t getting complaints. Being as involved in things as I have, lately, I can see where those might be true statements. It is difficult to get people involved. They may be unhappy, but don’t want to rock the boat. Many people fear retaliation for speaking out. These are elected officials, and by all rights, should be held accountable by the people they represent. I want this blog to be a locale for those comments. Feel free to share and comment on social media, but if you want to express your feelings about how your school board member voted, please do it below in the comments. Please use your real name, and the name of your board member, in the event there is any question about the validity of your existence.

17 thoughts on “Calcasieu Parish renews Bruchhaus’ contract”

  1. My husband and I are very unhappy with our representation in the CPSB by Annette Ballard. We have issue with the Superintendent not being held accountable for his job performance. Our son has had six math teachers in the last two year (3 at Barbe and 3 at SJW). Math is his weakest subject. His last teacher was an amazing teacher and really went out of her way to prepare her students for the EOC. We cannot not even count the number of days that he sat in the gym at Barbe because their were no substitute teachers at Barbe. We pulled our youngest daughter our of public school because of the numerous things that were cut out of the curriculum without our knowledge. There are no textbooks for the students. We didn’t know about the curriculum cuts until your testimony. Our four older children received a much better education than our youngest daughter. She is not a struggling student. She wants to learn and makes straight A’s. The continually testing and new curriculum are not age appropriate. The CPSB does whatever it wants to with no accountability to parents or students. There is not one person that we spoke to about our daughter that cared about her. It was like she wasn’t even a human being. If you are in education to make money and not change lives then you need to get a new profession.

  2. my board member is Eric Tarver. He has told me repeatedly he doesn’t have to explain to me why he supports the superintendent.

    Of course this leaves no room to trust him nor the rest of the board when valid reasons for trusting the super are not provided.

    Monica Hebert

  3. My concern is the over obvious fact that our school district is more commonly referred to as a system, but in business approach fashion. It is data driven which distances the actual education element from the students. And it establishes teachers more as operatives. It seems the Board and the Administration continue to push a business model-minded approach. Hence the Superintendent that is favored by the majority of the Board has a business background and not an education background. I realize this comes as a result of the reform directives via John White, his LDOE, and the complicit actions of BESE – who are controlled by big business interests. So what should CPSB do to better represent the citizens, parents, and children? They should disagree with the State education powers. They should publicly fight for us against the reforms. They should act in the best interests of children’s education priorities. They should support teachers teaching, not testing to drive the data, which tells us nothing of our children’s aptitudes. Our public school system is wrongly operated as a business entity using children as pawns to drive a piece of data into a $dollar. That’s my concern.

      1. Thank You. Each and every Board member should be asking themselves if the preparation the children are receiving now in our public schools is as sufficient as the education and learning that each of them experienced? Each Board member is successful in their own respective lives and careers. Do they really think what the “system” is providing the children of our Parish today will give them the same abilities to be as successful in the future? If any one Board member answered this question honestly, they would have to say “not a chance!” The only thing our school “system” is providing our children today is the molding to be sold to the highest bidder in the work force. Again, this only equates to $$$$$$ to be saved by the business interests involved in education policy shaping. It is hard to believe that our School Board members have such bad amnesia that they can’t remember the values of the education that they received, which was a creational, experimental, and challenging education process. Spirit and development in THEIR day was highly driven by the teacher in the classroom. But now, highly qualified teachers are being driven from the classrooms. So, where have all these Board members with amnesia become so narrowly focused? They are using their formative public educations to literally say that they were failed. I would like to hear from each one of them how their K-12 educations failed them. Then explain how our current Superintendent is providing a much superior experience and opportunity to our children today. I bet that explanation would almost be impossible to provide.

        1. I agree one hundred percent. The quality of education our children are being given now has diminished greatly. My daughter graduated this pass school year from Westlake High but throughout the 4 years she was there she complained numerous times of her math teachers not teaching adequate lessons to help her understand what she would later be tested on. Then there was no substitute teacher for a month which then led to an online teacher that only posted assignments with no introductory lesson. My daughter has been an advanced student since elementary and to watch her struggle her last 4 years of schooling was heartbreaking and senseless. I’ve heard several children saying they Google answers for their homework because there are no books & they have no clue how to get the correct answers. We send our kids to learn so they can be successful adults in whatever profession they choose meanwhile this parish is giving them the ability to fail. Our prisons hold a lot of smart gifted individual that have the potential to be great but no tools to execute the possibility because the school system failed them.

  4. My board member was Eric Tarver. I sold my house to get my children out of his district. I’m tired of being lied to. I opted out of the test for my daughter and copied him and KB on the emails of the bullying that was done to my child by the teacher. Of course they let the principal do the investigation l. It should have been done by an unbiased person. I want to see financial records of where our tax money that the board is spending. I want to know why there are private meetings being held without public knowledge. Get the political out of our children’s lives.

  5. My biggest problem with this, I have a few, is that KB and most of the Board are well aware of the problems. (The group of employees that attempt to hide their incompetence with threats and a baffling amount of BS) They know where the problems are coming from and he hasn’t done much if anything to rein them in. Inaction has led to a new contract and a raise…why would he try to fix anything now??

  6. When is the last time that the CPSB hired a superintendent from outside of our school system? There were highly qualified applicants from around the country seeking the position when Mr. Bruchhaus was hired. There were qualified applicants from with in the CPSB. How does the least the qualified person get the job? I can tell you who the next CPSB Superintendent will be. Dr. Shannon Lafargue. He is being groomed right now. He seems like he would do a better job and is actually qualified for the job. He actually seems to care about the students. The problem is that CPBS has a lack of transparency and not accountability to parents and students. They don’t want an outsider coming in to show what is going on behind closed doors and where the taxpayer money is going. You don’t go to that much trouble in less you are hiding something. I have great respect for the Moss Bluff teachers and parents for standing up to the CPSB.

  7. I object to this in the contract

    “The board recognizes that the achievement of targets depends on many variables not under the control of the Superintendent. Thus consideration will be given toward the Superintendent’s good faith efforts to reach these targets ”

    What about a teacher’s lack of control over the home life of students? Did they sleep in a bed last night, did they eat supper or breakfast, did they take their medication, do they have a toothache and haven’t seen a dentist, do they have anyone who checks their progress with homework or meets with a teacher, are they chronically absent? That’s not on the Danielson Rubric.

    What about a teacher’s good faith effort? That’s not on the Danielson Rubric.

    1. I couldn’t agree with you more. As a husband of a teacher and a father of 5 school age children I am uniquely qualified to have my say on this. These problems become worse in low performance schools where the rules are changed due to demographics, but the teachers are expected to have the same levels as every other school in the parish. Why should a teacher stay in a school that is dragging her/him down financially when the can transfer to a school whose children better reflects their teaching ability. My spouse loves teaching, but the love of teaching doesn’t put food on the tables or help pay bills. She has always rated proficient but we have been noticing a steady decline due to the students poor testing. Many students give up, many students are simply tired of testing. Statements like ” it don’t count against me so why try” and ” I know this affects your pay so I am going to fail on purpose” are bandied about with great frequency. How does a teacher combat that?

  8. The lack of comments-yet again- is due to parents fear of retribution being dealt to their child in the classroom. Why have any public input at all? Everyone knows how the Cpsb deals with those whom disagree. They operate like NaZI Germany. You could never tell by their management that this school system is in the USA

  9. It’s too late. The horse is already out of the barn. Most of the school board members should just go home and not return in shame. No wonder there’s not enough money to go around. Shame on them all.

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