There is apparently no check on the power and brashness of Jindal and White. At least not at BESE. Except for only three members, (Beebe, Hill and Lee) BESE members have performed like perfect puppets. This is a very unhealthy situation for our students and teachers.
The BESE meeting Thursday witnessed a parade of highly experienced education professionals led by Superintendent Michael Faulk of the Superintendent's Association and Scott Richard of the School Boards Association who practically begged BESE to hold off on rubber stamping the radical new MFP. Their efforts were supported by dozens of Special Education supervisors, teachers and parents who made it clear that there was no trust whatsoever in the new special education formula which begins a shift to new funding rules. Almost no one in education except for those feeding at the trough of poorly regulated and unaccountable vouchers and course choice giveaways have any trust that public schools will not be systematically dismembered by Jindal and his amateur superintendent.
Superintendent Faulk has compiled a list of staggering unfunded mandates demanded by the state and not funded by the MFP. They include unfunded huge increases in retirement contributions, burdensome in-service requirements, testing technology mandates, and new merit pay mandates based on the erratic VAM and the COMPASS which has now been denounced by Charlotte Danielson. (Danielson told the Monroe Newstar that she believes her carefully designed system has been inappropriately abridged and modified to the point that it may no longer yield valid results. She warned that Louisiana may face numerous legal challenges as flawed evaluations lead to damages to teachers careers and compensation.) The new MFP will certainly not help local school systems pay for these increased legal costs.
The so called “Jindal reforms” are poised to wreak havoc on Louisiana's education system because of what I believe to be a perfect storm of damaging and sometimes unintended results of Jindal's radical changes. I pointed out some time ago in a post titled “Chicken Processors Preferred to Teachers” that Jindal, contrary to his claim of trying to attract good jobs to Louisiana, is actually promoting a huge college educated job drain from Louisiana with the new Course Choice program. The results of this “innovation” are even more sinister than the regular vouchers because they will cause teachers to be laid off in Louisiana and their jobs outsourced to other states. Our MFP dollars will benefit other states. At the same time, since the course providers for most courses will be the sole judge of student success with no minimum attendance required, Louisiana taxpayers will be ripped off of millions while our students get bogus credit for empty courses. To add insult to injury, our students' home schools will be rated lower and blamed when such students fail to perform satisfactorily on state and ACT tests!
Another insane consequence of such programs is as the public school teaching force is reduced, the unfunded accrued liability of our state retirement system will skyrocket because there will be fewer teachers paying in. Testing costs will be driven to millions by the new common core assessments with the burden for associated technology upgrades for test taking mandated to local school systems. At the same time, students will have less access to computers to spend on their actual studies. Meanwhile unregulated charter schools and voucher schools will misuse tax dollars for exorbitant administrator salaries and “service fees. advertising costs, and rents”. This is just part of the brave new world of the Jindal “deforms”. Unfortunately most of the cost will only be realized after Jindal is gone.
If all of the above concerns you, please join my Defenders of Public Education data base. The legislature is our only recourse. We must demand that our home legislators represent us and our public education system for a change. Tell them to vote down the new MFP until it is revised to truly support public education! Remember they are your representatives, not vice-versa. Here is what you need to do now:
If you have not yet done so, please consider joining my Defenders of Public Education Data Base, before the next legislative session begins. Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of your State Senator and State Representative and your preferred email address. When issues come up in the legislature I will send you an email hopefully in time for you to communicate your wishes to your legislators. Only through coordinated action will we be successful in stopping these attacks on the profession and on public education.