Monday, February 16, 2009

Momentum building for attack on teacher tenure

How fast can a bad idea flow from a right-wing think tank to a state legislature?

Not even a month ago, a bogus study claimed that Louisiana could attract and keep good teachers if we would just take away their tenure, give them merit pay and privatize their retirement system.

And it's only been a week since Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek touted that same "study" from the National Council on Teacher Quality, hinting that teacher tenure might be a part of his legislative agenda.

Now, Northwest Louisiana's largest newspaper is basing an editorial opinion on that same piece of work. And they make it sound reasonable, even generous, to nibble away at an educator's fundamental right to academic freedom.

So it is now obvious that legislation attacking tenure will be introduced in the coming session. The fight could be a bitter one. Teacher bashing has become blood sport in Baton Rouge.

What we have seen thus far of the Jindal/Pastorek agenda is not encouraging. Voucher schemes, charter schools, state takeovers - all share one crucial point with the tenure study: There is no evidence that any of them will improve education or build a better future for our children.

These items will satisfy an ideological bias against public education. They will enrich contractors and "providers." They will create more high-level, high-salaried bureaucrats. That is what passes for education reform in Baton Rouge these days.

Contrast that sad picture with the vision of a bolder, broader approach to our schools that LFT will bring to the legislature this year. It will be a good fight.

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