Friday, May 25, 2012

Romney Adopts Jindal Reform Plan

IMPORTANT INVITATION: All readers of The Louisiana Educator are invited to immediately join our new data base of email contacts that I am naming The Defenders of Public Education. We need you now! It is 100% free! It is 100% confidential! Just send an email using your preferred email address, and zip code to: Your zip code will be used to list you and I hope many others according to legislative district so that I can send you timely, relevant information about your representative or senator's position on key education issues. You will also receive updates on critical BESE actions. From time to time I will ask our Defenders of Public Education to send an email or participate in efforts to influence legislative votes on critical education issues at the legislature. This will be done in cooperation with the Coalition for Louisiana Public Education and the established professional educator organizations of our state. The final decision will always be up to each contact member to do what he/she feels is appropriate. This is a way for educators to more effectively express the concerns of the education profession in Louisiana with greater unity. Through the actions of this group and the unified efforts of our educator organizations, educators could quickly become one of the most influential groups in the state. All educators, (teachers, administrators, school board members) and parents who care about public education are invited to participate. Just send me your email address and zip code today. Please don't wait for, or expect someone else to represent your profession!
This Tuesday, May 29th, a meeting of the Louisiana Accountability Commission will be held to make decisions about the SPS rating systems for schools this coming year along other issues related to Louisiana's No Child Left Behind waiver. If you sign up for our data base of defenders of public education now, you will be one of the first to see what changes will be mandated for your school in the next school year. All I really need is your email address and zip code, but if you wish, you can also include your name, education position and school or any other important data.

Fair Warning! Destruction of Public Schools is Becoming a Nationwide Effort:
Governor Jindal appeared on national television this week to announce that presidential candidate Mitt Romney is basically adopting the Louisiana plan for education reform with the intention of implementing much of the plan on a nationwide basis. In particular, Romney would like to implement a system of federal vouchers for students transferring from public to private schools and allow the federal funding to follow the student just as Louisiana is doing with the MFP. Jindal also pointed out that Romney would support the idea of revamping (destroying) the teacher tenure laws and eliminating seniority in personnel decisions. In his national TV interviews Jindal criticized the LAE for opposing tying teacher evaluations to student performance but neglected to mention that LAE has sponsored legislation (see last week's post) that would have tied teacher evaluations to multiple measures of student performance instead of just one test. This is not just a Republican issue. In my opinion President Obama and his Secretary of Education Duncan are also moving aggressively to replace public schools with charters and other forms of privatization.

All this comes on the heals of a new report by a group of conservative and business oriented self appointed experts in education reform who have come to the conclusion that the entire national security of our country is being adversely affected by the alleged failure of our public schools. The report was released just last month by a group called the Council on Foreign Relations. Their report is titled: US Education Reform and National Security. Even though the group sounds very official it is mostly a special interest group representing school privatization interests. Two real education experts, Professor Linda Darling-Hammond and Dianne Ravitch have just published separate critiques of the report that seriously question the validity of the report and its conclusions. Darling-Hammond was actually a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and released a minority report signed by six other members contradicting the findings. Dianne Ravitch's commentary makes a very strong case for rejecting the report outright. She points out that far from being experts in education, the majority of the group that produced this report is composed of non-educators who have special interest in criticizing public schools for the purpose of replacing them with privately run often for-profit schools.

I strongly suggest that the Diane Ravitch critique be considered almost mandatory reading for all professional educators who seek the truth about this Tsunami of reckless education reform taking place in our state and spreading to the rest of the nation. Please click on this link and carefully read Dr Ravitch's report. We must be armed with the facts if we are to counteract this takeover of public education by non-educator big business interests. These powerful individuals and organizations are well on their way to destroying the education profession as a respected profession. If they are allowed to continue unchecked our schools will soon be converted primarily into dull test rehearsal centers staffed by minimally trained college graduates while a few politically connected entrepreneurs profit immensely from our school taxes. I believe this system will only result in a major decline in our educational outcomes for the majority of students and will truly endanger our national security.

Legitimate education researchers have recently compiled data that demonstrates that if you pick almost any public school in the US that has wealth demographics similar to Finland (considered to have one of the most effective education systems in the world) the actual academic results of such a school will match or exceed the results of a typical school in Finland! That is exactly the case with my home town high school, Zachary High School. It has a minority membership of 45% and a poverty percentage much greater than most schools in Finland, yet just this week produced over 300 graduates that are thoroughly prepared for college or careers. But Zachary High is not a typical school for Louisiana. The poverty rate here is much lower than the typical school in Louisiana. This is just one more of thousands of public school examples across our nation that demonstrate that the argument that our public schools are failing is totally bogus! Some of our communities are failing and many of our politicians are failing and poverty is the real problem, but our public schools are not failing and our teachers are not failing! These facts are similar to the important information you will find in the Diane Ravitch critique. Please read it and use it in your arguments to defend our public education system.

That's why I want to urge you and your colleagues to join our Defenders of Public Education data base. Please send me your email and zip code today. And spread the word to other educators using Facebook or by direct contact. I believe you will be happy you took this important step for your profession.

Michael Deshotels