Baton Rouge Alliance for Students issues statement on addressing learning loss.

Baton Rouge, La. (April 13, 2021) – Baton Rouge Alliance for Students CEO Adonica Pelichet Duggan issued the following statement today regarding pandemic-driven learning loss and the response by EBR Schools“Despite the often extraordinary efforts by teachers and families to educate Baton Rouge’s children during the pandemic, many students have lost ground amid school closures, virtual schooling, and the trauma of a global crisis. Many of the students who suffered the largest loss of learning are those who were already most underserved by the system. Our community cannot pass on the opportunity now before it to not only gain back lost ground, but to give our students a leg up in the race to narrow the achievement gap. When COVID-19 forced the closure of Baton Rouge schools in March 2020, few could have imagined the full impact the pandemic would have on so many aspects of our children’s lives. Over a year later, with vaccines in wide distribution, many signs point to the beginning of a recovery. But just as the health implications of COVID-19 have varied from community to community, some students’ education has been weakened more than others. Our most vulnerable students have suffered the most and education researchers from all sides of the political spectrum warn that, left unchecked, pre-existing achievement gaps stand to widen dramatically.A monumental amount of federal relief dollars have been targeted to helping school districts in Louisiana reverse the tide of learning loss that swept in with the pandemic. The level of federal aid available to districts – more than $1.3 billion statewide – gives EBR Schools the tremendous opportunity to not only return to normal, but to accelerate student improvement and set Baton Rouge on a path to greater and more equitable student outcomes than we have ever before been able to achieve. This moment of opportunity calls for bold action.With summer on the horizon, a strategic planning process ongoing, and incredible amounts of new funding available, EBR Schools has the chance to lay the groundwork for years of significant progress. Getting back to normal is not good enough. It is essential that funding is sought and allocated to address equity in education quality, provide comprehensive social-emotional tools for students, improve educator resources, and engage community partners in supporting the whole child. The pandemic quickly taught us that community organizations play an important role in supporting children and families’ needs, both in and out of school, and they have a vital part to play in addressing students’ needs in the recovery.The Louisiana Department of Education recently gave guidance on appropriate uses of federal funding by school districts. The comprehensive list highlights addressing both the unique needs and learning loss of low-income children, children with disabilities, English Learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth. These priorities should be front-and-center in EBR Schools’ strategic plan. Families and teachers became more active partners in education during the pandemic, and that partnership must continue if we are to effectively mitigate the learning loss that took place for so many students and go beyond that to close the achievement gap that exists for so many more. The partnership born of necessity now has an opportunity to become solidified as we craft an ambitious shared vision of educational excellence for Baton Rouge students. EBR Schools is making moves to address these issues and we applaud the urgency with which it is taking action. We also know that success in this effort must include ongoing dialogue with families, educators and community partners, and must be more comprehensive, strategic, and intentional in order to achieve the outcomes we all want for Baton Rouge students.”

The Baton Rouge Alliance for Students Announces Scholarship Opportunity for North Baton Rouge Public School Seniors

In partnership with ExxonMobil, the Baton Rouge Alliance for Students is offering North Baton Rouge high school seniors an opportunity to earn one of five $2,000 scholarships to aid in pursuing their post-secondary education. Applications are due April 30, 2021. To learn more and apply, visit: “The Alliance strives to work with families, communities, civic leaders, and policymakers to create a future in which every Baton Rouge student receives an excellent education,” said Adonica Pelichet Duggan, CEO of the Baton Rouge Alliance for Students. “We’re so pleased to partner with ExxonMobil to increase student access to post secondary opportunities in this meaningful way.” The scholarship program will support the Alliance’s mission of elevating student voice through use of an essay question asking applicants to give advice to policymakers about how their K-12 education experience could have been improved. Up to 10 finalists will be invited to participate in a short interview with members of the Alliance’s staff and Advisory Council, as well as one ExxonMobil representative. Eligible students are those who: Live in the 70805, 70802, or 70807 zip codes;Are seniors at a public district or charter school in EBR parish;Plan to pursue post-secondary education (credential or degree) in a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) field; and, Have a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Alliance Launch by our founder

I’m excited to announce the start of the next chapter in my professional story as I step into a new role as CEO of the Baton Rouge Alliance for Students In founding this organization, my goal is to help drive Baton Rouge toward a future in which parents, community and policymakers partner to achieve the shared goal of an excellent education for every Baton Rouge student. At the Alliance, we seek to empower families, elevate community, and engage leaders.I am honored to be joined by a team of professionals with a shared commitment to Baton Rouge’s students and the future of our city. I will be joined on the founding Baton Rouge Alliance for Students team by Chief Strategy Officer Liz Smith, Family Engagement Manager Aretha Veal and Strategic Communications Associate Anthony B. Kenney. Our goal is to bring a uniquely Baton Rouge approach to our role in moving Baton Rouge’s schools forward.I have spent the last 18 years of my career focused on public school students, families and stakeholders. I believe those experiences have been the building blocks that have helped shape my perspective and led me to this moment. I have always been proud of the fact that I attended k-12 in EBR public schools, and I am grateful that my EBR education opened doors of opportunity for me that I could not have imagined. Despite never envisioning this as my path, sometimes your destiny is inescapable. I come from a family of educators, the daughter of a retired public school teacher, and ours is a family story like so many others whose trajectory was dramatically impacted by access to quality education. But, I believe you shouldn’t have to be lucky enough to be born into the right family to access a great education. That is the core of the Alliance’s work. I believe that each of us has a purpose, and that the goal of education is to equip us with the tools to unlock the unique gifts we have to share with the world. I am a believer in the innate greatness of all children, and I am committed to our collective responsibility to ensure that every child has the chance to reach their God-given potential. As they say, talent is equally distributed, opportunity is not. We must work to close the opportunity gap.Baton Rouge, like nearly every city, must acknowledge vestiges of its history of segregation and the impact of that legacy on educational options for our students. Families with means continue to access the best school offerings in the city, and while I will never begrudge them that opportunity, we need more of those opportunities to go around for all students regardless of income, race or geography. My daily goal is to amplify and respect the voice of families through real engagement and thoughtful conversation. Quality public education opportunities are vital to the growth of any community. The future of Baton Rouge is inextricably linked to equitable access to a great education for all of our students. Let’s get to work, Baton Rouge.