Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bullying Educators and Students

State Superintendent Paul Pastorek, a person who has no experience administering a real school system and who has no actual teaching experience continues his arrogant bullying of experienced and dedicated educators. The proposal before BESE for implementing legislation to convert the school rating system to a letter grade system is the occasion for this latest snub of the recommendations of knowledgeable educators. (click on this link to the Advocate article)

This update is added to give you the result of the BESE action on the new school grading system voted on 12/9/10. Click here to see the Advocate article. Ignoring the wishes of the Accountability Commission, BESE adopted a motion by Chas Roemer that is even more punitive to struggling schools than that proposed by Superintendent Pastorek. The Roemer plan will penalize schools that have any decline in their SPS by assigning a minus to their letter grade. In addition, schools will get a plus added to their grade only if they meet the State Dept. growth target. The problem with this as I pointed out to Mr Roemer in an email, is that as we approach the year 2014 the growth goal for the low performing schools will become prohibitively high because the scoring system attempts to raise the SPS of all schools to 120 by 2014. The Roemer plan will be very discouraging to the hard working staffs of many schools serving high poverty communities.
Roemer has also been a major advocate of charter schools. I wonder what Roemer will propose to do about the Charter schools in his district that continue to perform at the bottom of the scale. At the same meeting BESE approved the Pastorek plan that will allow “successful” charter schools to indefinitely remain independent of their local school boards, contrary to the stated intent of the original Recovery School District legislation.

Many local Superintendents and other educators on the state Accountability Commission had recommended a system that would allow credit on the grading scale to be given to schools that had exceeded the average performance of schools in their general performance category. The idea was to allow a one letter grade bonus for schools that were showing the most improvement. This system would have allowed schools serving low income communities a chance to get recognition on the grading scale for showing good relative progress.

Superintendent Pastorek has asked BESE to overrule the Accountability Commission which is composed of educators and representatives of the general public, and instead adopt a grading scale that would make it more and more difficult for schools serving poor communities to get a bonus for improvement. His plan would only allow a letter grade increase if the school met the state accountability growth target. Such an improved grade would be listed as a minus grade to show that it was not on the same par as others. Such growth targets are very rapidly becoming more difficult for schools to achieve because they are calculated based on all schools reaching the same arbitrary SPS target of 120 by the year 2014. This means that as we get closer to 2014 the schools serving poorer communities will have very little chance of earning a bonus for improvement because the target SPS will be getting much higher. No matter that the arbitrary goal of 120 is inherently unfair to high poverty schools, Pastorek the politician (not educator) feels he can make more points with the uninformed public by bashing public education. The result of such a policy would be to continue to perpetrate the unfair criticism of teachers and administrators who are dedicated to working in our most challenging schools. How can the parents in these struggling communities who may be working with administrators and teachers to boost the performance of area students feel pride in their school if the goal is unrealistic?

BESE is scheduled to make a decision on which plan to approve at their meeing on Thursday, December 9. Please make your concerns known to your BESE member on this issue.

We cannot improve education in Louisiana by continuing to trash dedicated educators and the students they serve. Our students should not be used as political footballs to help politicians score points with those who would destroy public education.