Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Who is really hindering student achievement?

So Superintendent of Education John White tells Advocate reporter Will Sentell that teacher unions, including the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, are hindering student progress. That’s because we opposed in court – successfully thus far – Governor Jindal’s scheme to siphon public education funds away from public schools and into the pockets of private schools, religious schools and the vampire capitalists who can’t wait to get their fangs into the state’s cash artery.

Never mind that the governor’s plan was patently, obviously unconstitutional, or that it was ramrodded through the legislature with all the subtlety of a Maoist Great Leap Forward, or that most lawmakers didn’t have the slightest idea what they were being directed to approve.
Progress, according to Superintendent White, is being hindered because we are the ones who pointed out the emperor’s lack of clothes.

In truth, the superintendent’s tantrum simply mirrors the frustration of a governor who has been told by a state court that he must play by the rules. And that tends to bridle the governor’s political ambitions, which are propelling his education agenda much more forcefully than a passion to improve student achievement.

The fact is that the governor’s privatization schemes are a much greater threat to student achievement than actions by teacher unions. Paying for students to attend schools that abhor science will not produce the next Einstein. Diverting school funds to online course providers will not create the educated work force that our future demands.

To find a real hindrance to student achievement, look to Governor Jindal’s budget priorities. It was he who slashed over $76 million from after school tutorial programs, classroom technology, reading and math initiatives and stipends for nationally certified teachers. 

It was Gov. Jindal who rejected, on purely political grounds, a $60 million federal grant for pre-kindergarten education.

The difference between these programs and Gov. Jindal’s schemes is that they are all proven to enhance student achievement. Another distinction is that they all have the solid support of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers – the union that Supt. White says is hindering student achievement.

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