Friday, June 7, 2013

Legislative Session Earns a D-

The new state budget approved in the last hours of the legislative session, includes a small, apparently permanent pay raise for public school teachers and a significant expansion of the school voucher program.

The salary supplement originally proposed by the Senate would have been a one time salary supplement and would have added additional burdens on local school systems to fund related costs such as retirement contributions without adequate state funding. The compromise budget includes a promise by Jindal that he intends to ask BESE to make the MFP increase and the pay supplement permanent. The salary increase should average approximately $580 per teacher.  I am concerned that we can still expect Jindal and White to try to convince school boards to exclude some teachers from the raise as explained in my previous post.

The voucher program which this blog and many others have criticized for having little accountability and sloppy implementation will double. In my opinion this program should have been killed or at least frozen in size. It is a huge waste of our tax dollars and the opposite of school reform. The standards for voucher providers have been minimal.  Students have been allowed to sign up to attend schools that have inadequate facilities and often substandard curricula. In addition, these voucher schools are exempt from the teacher evaluation program and from the implementation of the common core curriculum. Some are even exempt from scrutiny of their state testing results. How can the State justify having strict standards for public schools and almost no standards for private voucher schools?

A major criticism of the voucher program is that it creates an increasing drain on the state's budget and a growing constituency for vouchers even if the voucher programs are shown to be inferior to public schools. So far the minimal data available on vouchers demonstrate very poor performance. How can Jindal and the legislature justify doubling the program despite no evidence of effectiveness?

Finally, Jindal and LABI succeeded in stopping all efforts to slow down the highly inaccurate teacher evaluation system, the conversion to the untested common core standards, and the changes in the implementation of a new school grading system. I don't think that a $580 raise for teachers is going to make them feel any better about having to endure the unnecessary trauma and damage caused by these poorly implemented plans. The best grade I can give this legislative session is a D-.


Anonymous said...

You are correct; $580 does not compensate for all the problems caused by the new evaluation system, Common Core, and new school grading system. In addition, the timetable for full implementation of Common Core has been reduced in many subjects causing additional stress for teachers of those subjects. As far as I am concerned, the $580 is a very poor attempt at a bribe for public school teachers.

Anonymous said...

I just think it is idiotic that legislators have lost any ability to say, "I like the idea of Common Core - national standards sounds like an improvement over our bottom of the nation results until now. Show me it." However, when they can't put a curriculum in your hand...maybe we should give this good idea some time to develop before forcing it on our children. You know? I think the legislators are aware of this, I think the mass knew the Senate Ed Committee sold out teachers with 4 votes, tabling something 100% of the House passed (102+3 Senators on the ED Committee), effectively hurting teachers AGAIN with this VAM/Compass $580 is the best they could muster considering the amount of time they had left in the session after the Senate Ed Committee's "sell out". I'm glad you didn't give them an F...and even a C would have been too high...but I think a D+ would have been more appropriate considering the 100% support the House gave us. But, if it is a true report card and not a hand graded paper...only the letter grade D will show up! :)