Friday, May 16, 2014

HB 703 Rejected by Senate Education Committee

The Senate Education Committee ignored the concerns of all the major public school stakeholders and sided with the charter school managers and other haters of public schools in killing HB 703. As I explained in previous posts, HB 703 would have prevented the proliferation of preadatory charters throughout the state. These are charter schools that are doing serious damage to our public education system and at the  the same time destroying the education profession.

Every single member of the Senate Education committee made it very clear that they are in favor of more charter schools even if it is to the determent of our public school systems. The president of the Lafayette Parish school board explained to the committee how the addition of several predatory charter schools in Lafayette Parish, (a "B" rated school system) by BESE over the objection of the local school board this past year proves this point. Instead of setting up in the part of town serving high poverty students, where school performance scores are low, the new charters specifically located where they could try to attract some of the highest performing students of the Lafayette Parish system. When these schools get operating they systematically remove students who are discipline problems and the lowest performers and dump them back into the public school system. Basically they cream the best students in order to insure that they will receive a high school performance score. Meanwhile the performance score for the public school system goes down as they are forced to take the rejects from the predatory charters.

These predatory charter schools hire the cheapest teachers possible including persons that have not received an education degree and they often do not participate in the teacher retirement system. By avoiding the teacher retirement system the predatory charters save millions of dollars in cost that is now being asessed by our legislature to regular public school systems to pay down the unfunded liability of our retirement systems. Let's be clear. The legislature created the unfunded liability over many years by paying high benefits to many special groups and individuals (not to regular teachers) and now they are requiring the local school boards to pick up the tab to the tune of 31.5% of payroll. Yet the legislature has specificially exempted charter schools from this cost!

As such charter schools increase, a bigger and bigger burden is placed on our public schools until someday the cost to run any real public school may be prohibitive. But here's the real atrocity being perpetrated on the taxpayers and dedicated educators of our state: None of these charters have been shown to improve student performance over what they would have performed anyway. My latest analysis of the Louisiana Recovery District which is composed almost 100% of charter schools is that they perform at the 27th percentile compared to all the school systems in the state.  There is also evidence that many of these schools are grossly under reporting their student dropout rate. (The New Orleans RSD regularly "loses" about half its students on the way to graduation)

How can we the taxpayers continue to expand such a destructive system? Very simple, the charter management companies are using some of the money they save in operating costs by shortchanging our retirement system to make big contributions to the governor, BESE, and the same legislators who are slowly dismantling public education. They are gradually buying their way (using our tax dollars) into the destruction of public education.

If you want to see what education will be like in Louisiana if this trend continues just read up on the education system of Chile where 100% of the schools have been privatized. The politicians of Chile have succeeded in completely stratifying the education system in Chile into the haves and the have-nots with privateers making off with the tax dollars. This is where we are headed in Louisiana!

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