Why BRPD Officers Live Outside Baton Rouge: They Seek Good Public Schools, Safe Streets

Statistics from the Baton Rouge Police Department show that 58 percent of all police officers live in Central, Zachary, or parishes other than East Baton Rouge Parish.

Many people complain that many police officers live outside Baton Rouge but no one seems to want to ask why?  In reality, only 20 percent of the force actually resides in Baton Rouge. But Why?

When you say the words, “middle income working people,” that describes virtually every member of the Baton Rouge Police Department. They work for a living. They are not abjectly poor, but they certainly don’t make a lot of money. Even with husband and wife working, few Baton Rouge Police officers can afford to send their children to private or parochial schools.  Yet, they want a good education for their children.  

So like most of the rest of the “middle income working people,” in the Capital region, they live in Central, Zachary, Livingston, and Ascension parishes, where crime is low and public schools are good.

The problem really began back in the 1960’s and 1970’s during integration. In the late 1960’s, the parish had a system of neighborhood schools.  Some were overwhelmingly white, some overwhelmingly black, and quite a few were racially mixed.  However, Federal District Judge John Parker, unhappy with the rate of integration, ordered cross-town forced busing in order to achieve a targeted racial balance in each school.

His court orders, which extended more than three decades, left the East Baton Rouge Parish school system less integrated. Today, almost 90 percent of students in the system are black.  We have defacto segregation if not segregation by law. Now the EBR school board is once again pursuing neighborhood schools.  There is no longer forced busing, although there are plenty of buses crisscrossing the parish.

The current EBR school board inherited a Byzantine system of magnet schools, gifted and talented, charter schools, and neighborhood schools.

This system insures that most neighborhood schools will be failing or near failing schools.  Why?  First, the magnet schools pull away the best students (and often the top leaders) from the neighborhood schools. The gifted and talented programs pull out most of the other top students. Then many parents who pay attention to their options sign up for charter schools.  

That leaves the rest of the kids — who have been left out of the sweepstakes — to attend their neighborhood school. There are of course a few good neighborhood schools in this parish but very few.

The thing to realize about Baton Rouge is that things are not “normal” here. They are not normal be cause we are missing one important segment of the population — “middle income working people with children.” They are not going to send their children to poor public schools and they can’t afford private schools.  So they don’t live here. A few do, but not many.

East Baton Rouge Parish, but especially the City of Baton Rouge, consists of retired people, poor people, wealthy people, students, single people, and married people without children.  But what’s missing is “middle income working people with children.”  It’s not that there’s an exodus going on.  They already left!  Long ago.

That’s why only 20 percent of the Baton Rouge Police Department lives in the City of Baton Rouge.  You could take a cross section of any other category of “middle income working people” and probably find about the same percentages.

How can we bring those middle income working families back to East Baton Rouge Parish?

You will never do it with the current Byzantine structure of schools in East Baton Rouge Parish where neighborhood schools are deprived of the top 50 percent or so of their students.

But there IS a way to bring “middle income working people” back to East Baton Rouge Parish — a way that is almost certain to work!

But you may not want to hear it.

We KNOW how to do it because it’s already been done — in Zachary and Central, the No. 1 and No. 2 school systems in Louisiana.  

An analysis of enrollees in the Central school system shows that more families move to Central from Livingston Parish than from Baton Rouge!  They come back to East Baton Rouge Parish for the good schools in Central! 

Who are the people who have moved to Central from Livingston Parish? Mostly, they are former residents of Central who moved to Livingston for good public schools. They didn’t want to be in Livingston.  They wanted to be in Central.  So when Central got control of its schools and it became one of the top school systems in the state virtually overnight, people started returning to Central.

That’s what the proposed City of St. George is all about  It’s about returning people to public schools in East Baton Rouge Parish by creating a city with its own new independent community school system — a system like Zachary and Central, which are free of the Byzantine structure of schools in the EBR system where true neighborhood schools are virtually impossible.

It’s not about “dividing” the City of Baton Rouge. The City of St. George is exclusively in unincorporated areas of the parish that the City of Baton Rouge doesn’t want and never annexed! The new Southeast Baton Rouge School System will bring people back to this parish from Livingston and Ascension by the tens of thousands, because our former residents would rather be in EBR, if the schools are good!

So, yes, most Baton Rouge Police officers do not live in Baton Rouge.  It’s because of high crime and poor public schools.  But offer good public schools here, and people will pour back into this parish, especially to St. George where crime is low.  

Like Zachary and Central, the proposed Southeast Community School System will bring middle income working people with children back to the parish and make it once again a “normal” community. 

Police officers will come too!

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!