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

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Big Business Shenanigans

The big business lobby in Louisiana loves to mess with education. They have not seen a deform or privatization scheme for public education that they did not like. LABI (The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry) wields its power over the Legislature because it commands big money control of the legislative process. It's simple! Legislators are afraid to go against LABI because big business can mobilize big dollars to either help or defeat legislators in their next election. It does not matter what real educators and real parents want as far as LABI is concerned. They know what is best for us!

LABI needs to create the impression that there are parents and educators who support the goals of big business in remaking education by firing teachers and administrators based on student test scores and for promoting voucher and charter school privatization schemes. Various business interests have therefore created what Noel Hammatt calls "Astro turf" (you know .... fake grass roots) organizations of parents and educators to counteract the legitimate educators and parents who do not agree with LABI and their allies. Here are the major fake groups lobbying the legislature that are really controlled by big business: Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL), Stand for Children, Louisiana Federation for Children, Associated Professional Educators, and the Black Alliance for Educational Options.

This year a real grass roots organization of parents have had their eyes opened at the legislature when they formed a group to object to the poorly implemented Common Core standards and the effort to create a big data sharing system for private companies to market their wares to educators and parents. Many real parents were appalled at the half-baked theories of Common Core and the idea that private details of their children's lives would be sold and shared with various companies and groups.

Please read this blog post by Louisiana Parents Against Common Core to find out about the many shenanigans being employed by the big business lobby and their astro turf co-conspirators.

I have to take a stand with the real parents. I am urging my readers to do the same. Several good bills are up for a vote in the Senate that protect real students and support real parents in wanting privacy for their children. Please email or call your senator and ask him/her to vote "yes" for the following bills:

HB 1076 Protects the private data of school children
HB 1199 Provides parental rights to view all instructional materials
HB 988 Provides local control of curriculum through our local school boards
HB 1015 Provides alternate pathways for students with disabilities. (It does not make sense to force all children, even those with severe handicaps to meet the same standards)

Don't forget that SB 636 will be voted upon on by the full House today. Please ask your state Rep. to vote "NO" on HB 636. See explanation below.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

No Evidence for Chamber Sponsored Plan

Adam Kanpp, a Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce official believes that he knows more about running education than the professionals who have dedicated their lives to education. Here is Noel Hammatt describing the lack of evidence for the use of the type of school management mandated by SB 636.

This bill will be voted upon in the Louisiana House of Representatives early this week. If it passes, it will go to the governor's desk. Only your state Representative can stop this bill from becoming law. Please send emails and make phone calls to Representatives asking that they vote "no" on SB 636!