Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial Series in Louisiana History, Volume XVIII
edited by Michael G. Wade
Louisiana without question has one of the most interesting and colorful histories of any American state. It boasts a rich mix of cultures, a unique cuisine, music of astonishing vibrancy and originality, and a lush if much-threatened environment. However, like its politics, Louisiana education, while interesting and not without accomplishments, is not a happy topic. A recent National Education Association publication underscored the continuing problems of Louisiana education, notably the extraordinarily high percentage of uncertified teachers, the high dropout rates, and non-competitive scores on standardized tests. It might also have added low teacher salaries and morale, substandard working conditions, counterproductive local politics, vacuous teacher education courses, and widespread public prejudice against things even remotely intellectual as some of the root causes of the problems.
As this volume's component essays clearly indicate, these problems are firmly rooted in Louisiana's past. And Louisiana's educational problems are invariably as complex as the state itself.
The complexity and severity of Louisiana's educational problems do not obscure the achievements of individual educators, whose accomplishments are rightly famous. T. H. Harris and Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones are important figures in the nation's educational development, while the stories of less well-known individuals remind us of the power of teachers to influence individual lives.
While not comprehensive, this volume constitutes the most thorough existing examination of Louisiana's educational history. Most of the articles focus on the two great problems in the Pelican State's educational development: a continuing quest for educational quality and racial justice. Articles are organized into chronological sections entitled Colonial Louisiana, Antebellum Louisiana, Early Years of Public Education, Jim Crow Schools, and Louisiana Education Since the Brown Decision.
Michael Wade's volume is essential reading for anyone interested in Louisiana's most pressing and persistent problem.
Hardcover, 616 pages, ©1999