Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mardi Gras catch-up edition

While most of us were catching beads, the rest of the world proceeded as usual these past few days. Here are a few of the things we missed:

Writer says that charter schools are an attack on public education

In a well-sourced article, writer Sarah Knopp builds a case that the charter school movement has become a front for the privatization of public education. She quotes an article by education writer Jonathan Kozol as saying “the education industry represents the largest market opportunity” since health-care services were privatized during the 1970’s....

With citations ranging from Adam Smith to Milton Friedman to AFT's own Al Shanker, she builds the case that the financiers and big thinkers behind the present-day charter movement are the same people who really want vouchers. Charters, she says, are an intermediate step because vouchers are so unpopular.

Knopp throws down the gauntlet with some big statements:

When charters do succeed, it’s because they have lots of extra money. All
schools should have access to these extra funds—especially the ones that need it

Charters choose their students, which decreases the amount of power and due
process that students and parents have. They are more likely to exclude English
language learners and special education students. They pursue a different goal
than fighting for quality education for all.

Schools will be better when teachers are paid more and the profession is
more attractive. Teachers’ unions are a fundamental part of winning this; and
the charter school movement is an attack on these unions.

It's a long article, and there's stuff about New Orleans in it, too. A bracing wake-up call after Fat Tuesday.

Monroe teachers might get back some of the money they were cheated out of

In Monroe, where Mardi Gras isn't such a big deal, the Free Press has an article that begins with this statement: "City teachers may get back half of what the school system cheated them out of last year, but that’s if the governor doesn’t make serious cuts to public education in his budget. "

Monroe Federation President Sandie Lollie told the Free Press that some teachers are owed as much as $2,400 by the board.

Creationism is costing New Orleans tourist dollars

New Orleans CityBusiness reporter Stephen Maloney writes about the money lost to the city's tourism industry because of the law with the misleading moniker "Louisiana Science Education Act."

Scientific organizations are backing away from holding conventions in the Big Easy, saying the creationism-friendly law sends a bad signal to intelligent life everywhere. What's at stake for the city? One convention, which will be held in April because it is too late to change venues, expects to bring $15.2 million to the city. They won't be back again.

Furloughs on the table for LSU faculty

Advocate reporter Jordan Blum quotes LSU Chancellor Michael Martin as saying that he may ask the legislature to approve furloughs and layoffs at the state's flagship university.

Jindal wants to reject federal stimulus funds

Governor Bobby Jindal picked the Friday before Mardi Gras to announce that he will turn down almost $100 million in federal stimulus funds. There's no better time to say something that you don't want people to hear. His announcement did not escape the attention of Times-Picayune capitol bureau chief Robert Travis Scott, who managed to find some state leaders willing to forgo the party long enough to question the governor's judgment.

On Wednesday, lawmakers got it together and called a press conference to criticize Jindal's response to President Obama's address to Congress. While most of Louisiana probably missed the governor's impression of Mr. Rogers, it didn't get past some legislators that, as Advocate reporter Michelle Millhollon put it in this article, the governor is guilty "of allowing his political ambitions to dictate his response to the federal economic package."

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