This incident could be a metaphor for what has happened to the teaching profession in Louisiana and in many other states as a result of radical reforms to public education. Teachers have become the scapegoats for anything that is considered as lacking in our public education system. Repeated rounds of so called "education reform" have resulted in demeaning the education profession and relegating teachers to standardized test rehearsers. Educators are increasingly rated and berated based on the handicapps faced by the students they serve.
Teachers are handcuffed to lousy state testsStudents in grades 3 through 8 are required to take state tests each spring as a way of measuring their learning and the effectiveness of their teachers. But the tests are not age appropriate. Test scores statewide average only just above 40%. The average passing score is set by the state at approximately 30%. BESE has changed the guidelines for promotion this year so that students who fail all of their state tests can still be promoted to the next grade. Pure guessing on the multiple choice portions of the tests is a major factor in producing the score for each student.
Despite the flaws in the state tests, teachers and schools are rated according to the average test scores of their students. Teachers are extremely frustrated that their job has been reduced to repetitive standardized test rehearsal. Teachers of certain core subjects have little latitude in planing their course work, with little opportunity to use their creativity to motivate and inspire children to develop a love for learning. Instead most schools now are forced to channel teacher and student energy to producing higher standardized test scores at all costs. Some schools have pep rallies aimed at psyching up everyone prior to annual testing. Teachers are constantly threatened with bad evaluations and the possible loss of pitifully low “merit pay” bonuses if students do not produce constantly better test scores.
Teachers have been pushed to the floor and humiliated by legislation striping them of salary steps, due process, and seniorityIn Louisiana, as a result of Acts 1 and 2 of 2012, most school systems have dismantled annual step increases that gave teachers an incentive to remain in the profession in favor of a poorly designed incentive program for higher test scores. But since the state legislature has provided zero funding for the merit pay scheme, many teachers have seen no meaningful raises while being subjected to relentless pressure to increase student test scores. These laws also chipped away at seniority rights and due process rights of teachers and pretty much reduced the status of teachers to that of teenage grocery store stockers. Teachers are now relegated to stocking the brains of their students with answers to questions on standardized tests with little regard to real education. Teachers were assured at the time that these new laws would actually empower teachers to seek better salaries and recognition. I ask teachers: "Do you feel empowered?" The few rights for teachers retained since 2012 were won as a result of lawsuits by the Louisiana Association of Educators, their much maligned teacher union.
State standards for students are fake standards
Teachers have been humiliated and made less effective by being denied control over student discipline
The problems listed above are the concerns I hear from teachers every day. The scapegoating of teachers, and yes, the increasing class sizes are the real reasons why teachers are leaving the profession.