They are concerned that only a relatively small number of teachers are on a pathway to being fired as a result of the sloppy implementation of the new VAM evaluation by Superintendent John White. They believe also that the new laws should be identifying many principals and even local superintendents who should be fired. The firings are not happening quickly enough!
They are concerned that the privatization of our K-12 educational system is not happening fast enough. They are frustrated that many of the new voucher schools have turned out to be run by small time swindlers who knew almost nothing about education and who had no business running schools. They feel their cause has received bad publicity when it was revealed that some voucher schools were teaching about dinosaurs and humans existing at the same time.
The reformers feel that they were let down by the charter takeover schools in Baton Rouge, Pointe Coupee, St Helena and Caddo that failed to produce even minimal improvement in student performance in the years since takeover. These schools have lost almost half their enrollment when parents pulled students out and re-enrolled them in public schools.
It was clear from the recent meeting that none of the reformers have questioned for one minute the assumptions upon which their reform movement in Louisiana is based. The core assumptions upon which the reformers proposed overhaul of our K-12 system is based are as follows:
- Public schools are ineffective and should be replaced by a system of competition between voucher schools, charter schools and reorganized public schools where the survival of each school is determined mostly by student test scores. The profit motive of entrepreneurs can be adapted from the private sector and used to produce effective schools. The market place will determine the winners and the losers. Parental choice will help to determine which schools survive because parents will seek out the most successful schools for their children.
- Local school boards are obsolete. School boards are not doing enough to close down or reorganize low performing schools. School boards are an obstacle to entrepreneurs who want to form charter schools and voucher schools.
- The primary cause of low student performance is that there are too many lazy, ineffective teachers. Thousands of teachers in our public schools are not pushing students to succeed and have low expectations of poor children. They are protected by tenure and care mostly but their cushy 9 month jobs and their generous retirement benefits.
- The solution to the ineffective teacher problem is to do away with all seniority and tenure rights and to systematically fire teachers based on their student test scores. If the state sets a quota of say 10% of teachers found ineffective each year and puts them on a pathway to being fired and replaced by new, younger, lower paid teachers the state can improve its teacher force in just a few years and can save money to boot.
- Teacher professional training and traditional certification are an unnecessary luxury. Teach for America has demonstrated that all a teacher needs is a bachelors' degree and 5 weeks of training in how to prepare students for the all important annual testing.
- The Common Core standards will produce a revolution in teaching methods to produce world class achievement by all students. This will be accomplished by closing schools and firing teachers and principals based on the level of achievement of the Common Core standards by their customers, the children.
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry: LABI has been the primary arm of big business in Louisiana. In the past LABI has made sure that the biggest and richest businesses in Louisiana receive the most lucrative tax breaks and exemptions and avoid paying for the destruction of our coast and environment. This is all based on the assumption that the high paying jobs provided by these companies trumps all other concerns of Louisiana citizens. In the past LABI has presided over the destruction of the trade unions in Louisiana by passage of the right to work laws. Many of those unions supported apprenticeship programs that trained young workers for union jobs. Recently one of the founders of LABI admitted that the new system created by LABI left big business with a shortage of skilled workers. LABI has been a major proponent of college prep for all students which has pretty much destroyed all vocational technical programs in our high schools. Now LABI is complaining that our K-12 system which they reshaped is not producing workers for high tech jobs. LABI is a major proponent for the firing of teachers based on student test scores.