Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Be at the capitol on April 4!

BE AT THE CAPITOL on Wednesday, April 4, 2012

On April 4, the Louisiana Senate will consider bills that will

  • Base almost all personnel decisions – your salaries, your tenure and your job itself – on the unproven new teacher evaluation system.

  • Virtually abolish public education in favor of private and religious schools, virtual schools, home schools and charter schools created by corporations, businesses and industry providers.
The Senate is the LAST STOP before Gov. Jindal signs these bills into law. The Senate could convene as early as 9 AM, and stay in session until a vote is taken.

Be there! If you have an hour, or two, or can stay all day…

Click here to download a rally flier.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tell your senator to reject Jindal's radical scheme!

Click here to send your senator a message!

Tell your senator to reject Jindal's radical scheme!

The House of Representatives approved Gov. Jindal's extreme agenda...
Now it's up to the Senate!

In spite of thousands of e-mails, phone calls, and personal contacts, the House of Representatives approved two of Gov. Jindal's radical plans to privatize public education and de-professionalize teaching.

These two bills, HB 974 and HB 976, are expected to be approved by the Jindal-controlled Senate Education Committee and sent to the full Senate for a vote as soon as the first week of April.

Our next real chance to have an impact on these bills is on the Senate floor. Please send a message to your senators, asking them to vote against these assaults on public education.

Click here to send your senator a message!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

LFT president responds to Jindal's intimidation

(Baton Rouge – March 21, 2012) Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan responded with outrage to the Jindal administration’s efforts to intimidate lawmakers and teachers opposed to his radical education “reform” scheme.

“The heavy hand of politics is always involved in the legislative process, but never so obviously and so ominously,” Monaghan said.

The LFT president was responding to an announcement that a law firm affiliated with the Republican Party has requested copies of all e-mail correspondence between State Rep. John Bel Edwards and Monaghan or any other member of the LFT staff.

Read the rest of this story - click here.

Watch Rep. John Bel Edwards respond to intimidation from Jindal's allies:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Jindal plan: Social promotion for private school failures

There's a lot the administration hasn't had time to tell us about Gov. Jindal's voucher scheme. That's one of the problems with ramming a bill through committee in the first week of the legislative session.

Times-Picayune columnist Jarvis deBerry exposes some of what they missed in this essay about the unequal treatment given students in public schools versus those in private and religious schools.

If a public school student fails the LEAP test, the student is held back. If a student in one of Gov. Jindal's voucher schools fails the LEAP, the student gets a social promotion.

That unfairness is just one of the many reasons why Gov. Jindal's vouchers shouldn't spread to the rest of the state.

As previously reported here, voucher schools in New Orleans in fact produced worse test scores than public schools.

Public schools showing such dismal results would be sanctioned, then closed or chartered. There is no such accountability for Gov. Jindal's voucher schools.

Reporter deBerry asked the governor's spokesperson if it is true that voucher students get social promotions. The response was less than direct:

"We've provided evidence that the scholarship program is working and parents are overwhelmingly satisfied. It's also clear that current system is failing far too many students. How many kids over how many decades would you trap in failing schools while you wait on MORE data the program is working."

Accountability in public schools means test scores. Accountability in Gov. Jindal's voucher schools means parents are satisfied (that their child got a social promotion).

And that stuff they've been saying for years about using data to gauge a school's success? That only applies to public schools. In Gov. Jindal's voucher schools, a happy smile is proof enough.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Three ways to stop the Jindal agenda

Gov. Jindal’s anti-public education, anti-teacher agenda: Tell your Senator and Representative to vote NO on these bills: HB 974 and SB603, and HB976 and SB 597

By now you know how educators were disrespected at the State Capitol on March 14 and 15. Thousands were turned away at the door while the House and Senate Education Committees marched almost lockstep to approve the Jindal agenda. The few lawmakers who stood with us were railroaded by the most extreme display of executive overreach since Huey Long.

It’s important for the rest of the Legislature to hear from the voters before these bills become law. They have the potential to destroy public education and our profession. Here are 3 things you can do right now to help derail Gov. Jindal’s train before public education and the teaching profession are damaged beyond repair.

1. Click here and send an e-mail message to your Senator and Representative, telling them about your opposition to the bills.

2. Call your Senator and Representative.

Your Senator’s contact information is here, and your Representatives information is here. If you don’t know who they are, click here to find out.

Using the information listed below, explain to them that you are a voter in their district and you oppose these bills.

3. Send this link to everyone in your address book – legislators need to hear from as many people as possible!

Here’s what is at stake with these bills:

HB 974/SB 603: Attacks on the teaching profession

If these bills pass, virtually all personnel decisions will be based on the controversial new ‘Value Added Model” of teacher evaluation.

  • There will never be another across-the-board pay raise, and no more salary schedule for new teachers. Local superintendents will decide how much each teacher and school employee will earn, largely based on evaluations.

  • Any teacher who receives an ”ineffective” rating even once will be ineligible for pay raises, will lose tenure rights and will be considered an “at will” employee who can be fired immediately.

  • Teachers will have to be rated “highly effective” for five straight years to earn tenure. The architect of Gov. Jindal’s Value Added evaluation program says that is nearly impossible to do.

  • In dismissal proceedings, teachers have no right to a list of specific charges, may not appeal to the school board, and have only 60 days to lodge an appeal, instead of the current one-year limitation. Language requiring teachers to be found guilty is removed.

HB 976/SB 597: The destruction of public education

These bills will use the funding process to virtually abolish public education. Your tax dollars will be spent on private and religious schools, virtual schools, home schools and charter schools created by corporations, businesses and industry providers.

  • These bills violate the State Constitution, which says that Minimum Foundation Program funds can only be used for “public elementary and secondary schools.”

  • Tax money approved by voters for local salaries, construction and maintenance will go to these schools, even if the schools are in a different city or parish.

  • The only requirement to teach in these schools will be a Bachelor’s degree – no certification will be necessary.

  • The only fiscal oversight for these new charter schools is an annual report to the unelected charter authorizer, not to BESE or the local school board.

  • Online teachers from anywhere in the world will automatically be certified as Louisiana teachers. These online teachers will NOT be subject to Louisiana teacher evaluations or accountability.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tell lawmakers to slow down the Jindal train!

The House and Senate Education Committees must allow full and open debate of the Jindal agenda!

Click here to send a message to committee members!

Click here to download a flier explaining the issues at stake.

Beginning on Wednesday, March 14, lawmakers will begin deliberations on the most radical changes to the education profession ever considered in Louisiana.

Whether or not you agree with Gov. Bobby Jindal’s legislative agenda, it is important to understand that his plan needs to be considered openly, transparently and with adequate public comment.

The governor’s supporters say they want to pass major bills very early in the session, as quickly as possible, and without amendments. The House Education Committee has already scheduled a hearing on the governor’s package, HB 974, HB 976 and HB 933 for Wednesday morning at 8:30 A.M.

There are indications that the Senate Education Committee may deliberate its versions of the governor’s package on Thursday.

To read more, please click here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ravitch ravages Jindal agenda

Fresh from her appearance at the Louisiana School Boards Association convention, historian/educator Diane Ravitch has penned a column for Education Week that eviscerates Gov. Bobby Jindal's education agenda.

In this column, she writes that the governor's plan "is as punitive as possible with respect to public education and teachers. It says nothing about helping to improve or support them. It's all about enabling students to leave public schools and creating the tools to intimidate and fire teachers. This 'reform' is not conservative. I would say it is radical and reactionary."

Ravitch was also a guest on Jim Engster's radio program on WRKF-FM in Baton Rouge today. On that show Ravitch, who served as Assistant Secretary of Education under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, opined that the governor's agenda is to privatize public education as much as possible and to strip the dignity and professionalism from teaching.

Listen to a podcast of the show by clicking here, and then click "Listen to Podcasts," and the March 6 program.

Monaghan letter: MFP violates Constitution

In a letter to newspaper editors around the state, LFT President Steve Monaghan explained how the Minimum Foundation Program formula adopted by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education last week was railroaded through without adequate public comment.

As Monaghan put it, "Debate was stifled in a manner reminiscent of the very worst political shenanigans of the past. Ironically, it was the very administration that touts itself as the most ethical in history that apparently orchestrated this exercise in faux democracy."

Read the whole letter, as printed by The Advocate in Baton Rouge, here.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ravitch in Lafayette: Education gimmicks don't work

The Louisiana School Boards Association got a good dose of Diane Ravitch at their convention in Lafayette last week. As reported here by Mike Hasten in the Lafayette Advertiser, Ravitch told the gathered school board members that school reform gimmicks like vouchers, charter schools and high-stakes testing "don't work."

Ravitch is a veteran educator, established researcher and former official in both the George W. Bush and Obama education departments. Once a supporter of those education options, she has come to believe that they are unworkable fads or, worse, tricks aimed at privatizing education and funneling public funds into corporate coffers.

She obviously touched a nerve with Louisiana's new State Superintendent of Education, the relatively inexperienced John White.

His response to her comments - "It's an insult to talk about educators and parents as though they were corporate pawns" - misses the point. Nobody's accusing parents and educators of being corporate pawns. It could be said that those who promote vouchers and other forms of privatization are corporate shills, however.