Thursday, May 29, 2014

SB 636 Soundly Defeated

The big business bosses and the Chamber know-it-alls can be defeated when the professional education community and real parents unify and speak to their legislators. Senate Bill 636 was just another hair brained scheme by the haters of public education to deform public education and push it toward privatization, but when the votes were counted the  House of Representatives made a strong statement by soundly defeating the bill.

Make no mistake about it. This bill was an attempt to undermine our system of locally elected school boards in an effort to promote privatization of our public schools. Far from being an innovative plan to make education more effective and boost student performance, this same plan had already failed miserably in all the so called independent charter schools set up in EBR by the LDOE 5 years ago. It is not a workable, effective plan, and the business community would never apply such a plan to their major corporations.

The public school haters have long assumed that most professional educators are lazy, status quo types who don't care about the success of our students and who therefore need to be run off and replaced by free market types who will take a no excuses approach to running struggling schools and magically make all kids perform above average. This magic solution has not worked anywhere, and definitely not in the New Orleans Recovery District where a major PR effort has portrayed the charters there as a big success story. Lazy news networks and gullible news celebrities have swallowed the cool aide and have continued to repeat the carefully crafted press releases that talk about amazing "student gains" since the charters took over. Few have looked into the real data or listened to independent researchers who have repeatedly exposed the hoax. Here are just a few key facts:

  • Over half the students in the New Orleans RSD mysteriously disappear before graduation time. This is a common practice in "miracle" schools. Just get rid of the low performers and call them "transfers" when they are really running the streets.
  • These schools run on a schedule of constant test prep and test taking with almost no attention to a well rounded education. Both students and teachers are subjected to mind numbing rote memorization and prepping for the all important state tests. There are repeated incidences of administrators gaming the system, giving bogus credit recovery courses, and even outright cheating. Teachers are informed by students that "we don't need to study, you have to pass us!" 
  • They often use bogus statistics that show "dramatic" progress of students compared to the rest of the public schools. The boosters of privatization in New Orleans have been making this claim of dramatic progress for seven years now. So how do they really compare to all the other public schools in the state? The latest student performance statistics rank the New Orleans RSD in the bottom 20% of all public school systems in the state. It is still the lowest ranked large school system in the state. The students of the RSD who are allowed to graduate are not prepared for college or careers, no matter what the highly paid PR people tell us.
There is a way to boost performance of at risk students. It involves educating the whole student. It requires supplementary services to insure that students are properly fed, that they have medical attention, that they have a quiet place to study and to get the necessary sleep at night and they are not abused. These efforts produce gradual progress not miracle results. These problems will not be solved by no excuses schools run by rich entrepreneurs focused on the bottom line.

Remember this: Legislators just like our students love to be complemented when they do their homework and pass the test. Please send thank you emails or better yet make a phone call to thank the legislators who voted to kill SB 636! Click here to see the votes on SB636


Bridget said...

Is there a link to see who voted for and against? I would like to respond to them personally.

Michael Deshotels said...

Yes, I will add the link to the report on the vote.