Sunday, February 17, 2013

10 Education Forum Questions for Legislators

The 10 questions below reveal serious problems with our education system that should be discussed at the upcoming education forums. These problems are the responsibility of our state legislators to correct. If they are not corrected, thousands of children will continue to receive a substandard education at the hands of incompetent amateur educators at our State Department of Education and in the Recovery School District. Also, if they fail to correct the  problems created by the new unreliable and erratic teacher evaluation system, they will be responsible for the continued loss of many of our excellent teachers to early retirement or to other states.

10 Education Forum Questions for Legislators

1. The State Dept. of Education has been allowed to take over low performing schools from local school boards for more than 6 years. Out of 73 schools now run by the DOE for which we have data, 45 or 62% are rated as “F” and another 18 or 25% are rated as “D”. All of the State run schools in the Baton Rouge area, Pointe Coupee, St Helena and Caddo are rated as “F”. All of the charter schools authorized by the State in these areas are complete failures. Why does the legislature continue to allow the LA State Dept. of Education to take over more schools from local school boards or to force local schools to be converted to independently run charter schools when their track record is so appalling? Why can't failing schools be taken over from the State DOE?

2. There is a state law allowing petitions to be run in local school districts that allows a local school to be taken over from the local school board and given to the DOE. Why is there no provision in this law to allow a failing school run by DOE to be taken over by the local school board?

3. Why is the State Superintendent allowed to hide or refuse to report the scores of some state run schools that are low performers? Why is the State Superintendent not held accountable for the schools under his management?

4. Why is the State Superintendent allowed to close schools in poor neighborhoods causing much disruption in the education of at-risk students without input from the parents?  How does this practice enhance parental choice?

5. Why is the State Superintendent allowed to target for firing 10% of math, English, social studies, and science teachers in the state each year with no end in sight? How was it decided that 10% of the basic skills teachers each year should be declared ineffective without regard to improvements in student performance state-wide? How will this policy encourage good reliable teachers to teach basic skills courses in our public schools?
6. Why did the state legislature remove the requirement that teachers in tax supported charter schools be certified?
7. Why is the legislature allowing teaching jobs to be outsourced to out-of-state providers using untestested virtual courses that are paid for with our tax dollars? Didn't Governor Jindal say that he wanted to bring college level jobs to Louisiana. . . not outsource such jobs? Will the legislature, facing a one billion dollar deficit, use our tax dollars to fund the Course Choice program for next school year even though it sends college level jobs to other states?
8. Why is the Legislature funding vouchers using our tax dollars to private schools that have minimal facilities, uncertified teachers, no accountability, and a substandard curriculum? Why does the legislature allow a double standard of extreme accountability for public schools and almost no accountability for voucher schools and charter schools?
9. Why are parish schools that are good performers being allowed to be taken over by charter schools over the objection of locally elected school boards? Why is the authority of local school boards being usurped by BESE in approving such schools?
10. Why are some charter school operators being allowed to make a profit with our tax dollars? Why can they use our tax dollars to run advertising campaigns for their schools? Why can they pay their administrators exorbitant salaries with our tax dollars when their results are so abysmal?

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