Friday, April 20, 2012

White town hall meetings

Superintendent White announced yesterday that he will host a series of town meetings . (click on the link above to see the schedule.) with teachers and superintendents across the state to discuss the new reform laws and the No Child Left Behind waiver request. The new initiative announced by the Superintendent is titled Louisiana Believes! Apparently the superintendent, fresh from major legislative victories that destroy teacher tenure rights, ban the use of seniority in personnel decisions, order local school systems to revise teacher salary schedules that may freeze many teacher salaries for years and diminish the importance of experience and degrees in calculating salaries, rip students and much MFP funding from local school systems causing increases in class sizes and decreased funding for education supplies, and impose a punitive new teacher evaluation system, believes that he will be able to enlist enthusiastic teacher and administrator support for this damaging program!
The gall of this guy is truly amazing!

I hope many teachers attend these town hall meetings in their areas and ask a few critical questions of our new czar of education. Here are some I would suggest:
  • What makes you (Superintendent White) think that teachers are going to embrace a reform program that blames teachers for all deficiencies in student's performance and makes teachers responsible for correcting some of the ills of society over which they never will have control?
  • Why does the new superintendent assume that teachers are not already trying their best to help students succeed? Does he really believe that he who has minimal qualifications for his job and zero experience dealing with Louisiana public education can motivate teachers to do the job that they have always tried their best to do?
  • Since the legislative reforms have not given teachers one additional tool for improving instruction, apparently White believes that all that has to be done is for teachers to teach harder or stop being so lazy and incompetent and students will automatically succeed. Don't the reforms just assume that teachers have not being doing their job and that threats and incentives will make them more effective?
  • Suppose the theory that teachers have to be whipped into shape to improve education is not correct. Suppose that classifying 10% of all teachers as ineffective each year does not improve student achievement on the state tests or on the NAEP tests. What will White do then?
  • Since White believes in firing ineffective teachers and administrators, will he resign if his reforms fail to make any significant improvement in student achievement? What if the schools taken over by the state continue to rank second to last in the state? Will he resign then?
These are just a few of the questions that popped into my head when White announced that he would hold these town hall meetings with teachers. I'm sure my readers have good questions of their own and that many will attend these meetings.

If you would like to read something positive about the work teachers in Louisiana do for a change, please click on this link to Teacher in a Strange Land. Its good to read about real education reform in Louisiana.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Mike, for the suggested questions for teachers to ask. My understanding that only 2 or three from each school are allowed to go. Isn't that a bunch of you know what?

Nancy's blog on the accomplishments and success of the school she has been working with in Louisiana was a wonderful way to conclude your blog that reminded us of how the deformers think education can be improved. I am familar with the school, its leadership and a number of the faculty members. When you have a leader who is encouraging and supportive, and is not afraid of union input, plus a faculty who can use collaboration and the support of each other, one never knows what will and can happen. I do hope the students' test scores will reflect all their hard work. Here we are full circle, back to the God Almighty tests. To White and Jindal, nothing else matters. The professional and personal accomplishments each of these teachers have made, mean nothing. What a shame!

Anonymous said...

A hard truth to accept is that a number of TEACHERS voted Republican in the last elections. This is the consequences of these elections. For anything to really change, the LA Democratic Party will have to produce strong Democratic challengers who will have the courage to support teachers and when elected, will overturn these bad laws. The SAD TRUTH is this: Vote Republican and they will shaft you. Vote Democratic and they will let the Republicans shaft you.

Anonymous said...

I'm one of the lucky few who get to attend and I have a question that has been making crazy.

I am a math teacher who offers tutoring before school and at lunch everyday for ANY student as a first come first serve basis. Daily I have about 15-20 come see me for help with only about half being my current students. I offer this because I love to teach! So what incentive would I have next year to help these other kids that are not my current students? It looks like I would have to say, "Sorry, but I'm going to help this other kid because it's all about the money now!" That's horrible to think but I can guarantee you would do the same thing if you were in my shoes...

Anonymous said...

Why do you have to be one of the "lucky few" who get to attend, if this is a true town hall meeting in a democracy?

Anonymous said...

Other possible questions:
1. Soon every public high school student will be required to take the ACT. How does the requirement that all public high school students begin taking the ACT and that the ACT be used as a means of evaluating school systems help to improve the quality of education? The ACT is designed to test for college prep readiness. Not all students are college bound. When school scores are compared to the national average, many school systems will show a decline in their scores since everyone will now have to take the ACT. Yet the ACT exam is not required by all public high school students in all 50 states so the national average will not reflect what LA school systems will be required to do. How can this use of the ACT be an effective means of evaluating schools?

2. How is evaluating 10% of all faculty members from A, B, or C ranked schools as "ineffective" an effective means of improving education when the teachers at these schools are already producing better results than those at D and F schools?

3. Last year, previously retained students who scored basic in both math and English on the 4th grade LEAP test or 5th grade iLEAP were able to skip a grade this year(with the parents' permission). If this policy continues and a teacher has several students in the classroom who were allowed to skip the previous grade level, how is using those students' scores as part of the teacher's evaluation a fair means of evaluating the teacher?

Mike Deshotels said...

Good points. I really don't think our education Czar has a clue about what these "reforms" will really produce.

Anonymous said...

I think all teachers should be evaluated no matter what grade their school has earned. Even A, B, C schools have teachers who are ineffective and are riding the wave of those teachers who are. And the same is true for schools scoring D and F. They have individual teachers are doing a good job but because they may be fewer in number their overall impact won't make much change in the grade of a school. I think it is wrong to think that all of the teachers in D and F schools are poor and A,B,and C school the teachers are great.

Anonymous said...

I have reviewed the schedule for Mr. White's "town hall meetings". Am I missing something? Is there not an EBR area meeting??? And how is it that certain schools or representatives of an area are picked? This lack of accessibility and information continues to push educators further away from the initiatives produced by our gov't and our "super"intendent!

Anonymous said...

"I think it is wrong to think that all of the teachers in D and F schools are poor and A,B,and C school the teachers are great." -Please do not misread the comment.That was never stated.

All school systems can work to improve. However, do you think there exists the possibility that in requiring 10% of all faculty at A, B, or C ranked schools to be rated as ineffective, a teacher at an A,B, or C school may be ranked as "ineffective" when that same teacher may have been
considered "effective" at a D or F ranked school? Arbitrarily requiring 10% of all faculty members at every school to be rated as "ineffective" is unfair. This is punitive to those systems that are performing well.

The evaluation tool remains subjective in part, subject to factors outside a teacher's control, and therefore unfair to all. I hope this helps to clarify my concerns.

Anonymous said...

Teachers should be evaluated, I agree. Teachers who do not do their jobs should be terminated- period. Arbitrarily requiring 10% of all faculty members to be rated as "ineffective" is unfair- especially if they are doing their jobs.

EnjoyHi5!Autism said...

Thanks for posting LA State Superintendent White's Townhall Meetings. Hope for productive and civil discoursed with mutual resolutions.