SJBP schools eschew career diploma

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 18, 2009

By David Vitrano

RESERVE—The most recent session of the Louisiana Legislature contained a number of bills aimed at reforming the operations of the state’s public schools and the boards governing them.

Many, such as the five bills offered by Louisiana Superintendent Paul Patorek that targeted local boards, did not fare so well. One bill, however, that managed to make it through the gauntlet of lawmakers was the “career diploma” measure.

But even though the bill was passed by both houses and signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal, students in St. John the Baptist Parish will have to wait at least one more year until they can take advantage of the new legislation.

According to St. John Superintendent Courtney Millet, there was not enough time to sufficiently prepare for the new diploma track between the bill’s passage and the first day of school.

“With the limited amount of time before the first day of school, we did not feel that we could offer a quality career diploma program for our students,” said Millet. “We will certainly use this school year to plan for curriculum and instruction and also put the appropriate personnel in place at both East St. John High and West St. John High schools,” she added.

St. John is one of 39 districts across the state opting out of the career diploma for the 2009-2010 school year.

The career diploma is aimed at students who do not wish to pursue degrees beyond a high school diploma or who cannot pass the state’s standardized tests and would prepare those students to enter the workforce directly out of high school.

While proponents of the measure said it would help curb the state’s dropout rate, the bill was derided in many circles as the “dummy diploma” bill.