Act I also requires that a new teacher layoff priority list be created for 2013-14 with the teachers that were rated as ineffective by the new evaluation system being first to be laid off without considering their previous evaluations or experience. Seniority of teachers is absolutely banned by Act 1 in the making of employment decisions. Effectiveness as measured by the new VAM system is “king” in the employment and layoff of teachers. As we saw in the editorial by the American Press this week, some schools that are top performers in the state may have disproportionate numbers of teachers classified as ineffective using this new flawed system. Those same evaluations may also cause major changes in the salary schedule for teachers.
So we have a brand new teacher evaluation system whose validity is being seriously questioned by numerous education professionals and now a major Louisiana newspaper, that also may soon have a major impact on teacher salaries. Teachers and school boards will now be forced into possibly adversarial positions just to comply with a law they never needed nor asked for. This is another example of non-educator ideologues dictating new problems for our public school systems. Will such new rules apply to the voucher schools or to the new course choice course providers? Of course not! These unproven competitors with public education as usual are exempted from the heavy handed approach of our ALEC influenced legislature.
According to the new law, a teacher's present salary may not be reduced by the new salary mandate, but a teacher who had looked forward to regular step raises based on experience may no longer receive those incentives to stay in the profession here in Louisiana. Also, some educators who have spent precious dollars and time pursuing higher degrees in expectation of a higher salary rewarding this additional education may now find their plans quashed by the new rules.
One of the perverse incentives to school boards to drop or reduce step increases for experience or advanced degrees are the projected deficits to many school board budgets caused by freezes in the MFP, unfunded mandates by the legislature, and the new drain on the MFP caused by vouchers and Course Choices. School boards may be forced to choose between teacher salaries that were used in the past to attract and retain experienced and educated teachers or increasing class size. Many Charter schools in Louisiana have already chosen cheap TFA corps members over experienced teachers partly so they could pay their administrators obscene salaries. You see TFA recruits only expect to do this “public service” for just a couple of years, get their college loans paid and then move on to their real careers. Or they may get high paying jobs in our State Department of Education. The Advocate points out today that the Director of the new teacher evaluation program is a two year TFA teacher with no training in education other than the 5 week crash course. You see in our Brave New World of Louisiana education, the advantage goes to persons with no professional training in education but who buy into all the latest reform fads.
If you want to get a good idea about the destructive effects of these mandates take a look at the recent blog by Diane Ravitch about the chaos that has resulted from a similar program implemented in the Washington DC public school system by Michelle Rhea. The main difference is that the DC system had much more funding with which to implement this monstrosity! Louisiana will be attempting to do it at the same time that most school systems are faced with crippling budget shortfalls. Many of my teacher readers have sent me emails confiding that they believe these programs may finally drive them out of the profession or at least cause them to look for employment in another state. Louisiana may soon be faced with a shortage of experienced competent teachers.
Will educators and school boards along with innocent students continue to be helpless victims of our misguided corporate styled reforms?