Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Can't we all just get along?

LFT President Steve Monaghan's letter to Governor Bobby Jindal is getting all kinds of media attention for pointing out the flaws in the governor's proposed education agenda. Headlines like "LFT chief decries Jindal’s plan to cut red tape" (Will Sentell in The Advocate), "Gov. Bobby Jindal's education proposal criticized by Louisiana Federation of Teachers" (Associated Press reporter Melinda Deslatte), "LFT president expresses concerns over Jindal school initiative" (Gannett reporter Mike Hasten) and others all lead by stressing Monaghan's criticism of Jindal's plan.

Journalism thrives on conflict, so it's fair that reporters concentrate on points of disagreement. But with the exception of Mike Hasten's, none of the reports delve into the most important issue raised by Monaghan - that the state would be better off if Governor Jindal would seek cooperation on areas of agreement.

It's a tack taken by LFT in negotiations with Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek over the state's Race to the Top application, and it works. Here's how LFT puts it in a press release:

Instead of pursuing an agenda that guarantees confrontation during the
upcoming session, Monaghan urged the governor to “embrace the philosophy that
marked our Race to the Top discussions.”

“Together, we can find ways to increase respect for and value in tenure
as the ‘meaningful and active process’ described in the application,” Monaghan
wrote. “We can have an honest discussion of R2T’s ‘learning environment index,’
and provide teachers with the power to identify impediments to achievement at
the site level and to trigger corrective action. We can debate ways to reward
teachers for excellence or for additional contributions without appearing to
attack teacher salary schedules.”

“Our recent experience with Superintendent Pastorek and his team in the
creation of the state’s R2T application demonstrated that engagement is far
better than disengagement,” Monaghan’s letter concluded. “We hope that we can
look forward to working with you in the interest of our children in the coming
legislative session.

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