Saturday, May 2, 2015

Latest News in the War Against Public Education and the Teaching Profession

First the Good News:

HB 330 which would have greatly expanded vouchers, and HB 505 that would have taken away all due process rights of teachers were removed from the House Education Committee agenda for last week. These bills may not be revived partly as a result of the many emails legislators received opposing such legislation. I want to thank many of my readers for communicating with their legislators and informing them that these bills would be destructive to public education. HB 505 by Ivey is however, rescheduled for consideration by the committee this coming Wednesday, but even Governor Jindal has indicated that he may not support it. Please continue your efforts to defeat this horrible bill.

Now for the Continued Attack on the Teaching Profession:

House bill 418 passed a carefully stacked committee of the House Labor and Industrial Affairs Committee Thursday despite much vocal opposition from teacher, police, and firemen unions. This is the bill that would prohibit teachers and other public employees from using payroll deduction for payment of their union or association dues. Our state government is 1.8 billion dollars in deficit, and public employees are subject to layoffs, pay freezes, and outright cuts, yet big business (LABI) and teacher haters want to pass legislation that reduces the influence of professional educators, but does not save the state or local governments one penny!

HB 418 is cynically named the Payroll Protection Bill. These union hating legislators pretend with the use of this title that teachers, police, and firemen are like innocent children who need for their big brothers in government to protect them from the "evil" unions. Payroll deduction will still be available for numerous charities, insurance policies, and even highly questionable cancer polices that are considered by the insurance industry to be little more than rip-off polices. Our big buisness bosses in LABI don't care about the teachers that may be preyed upon by all of these other groups. They only want to protect teachers from their own organizations that are dedicated to fighting for teacher rights and benefits.

Are those big buisness interests such as LABI and CABL concerned about the innaccuracy of VAM ratings, or the serious flaws in the new evaluation system, or the loss of seniority for teachers, or the interference of the LDOE in enforcement of student discipline, or the fact that now some teachers are being required to work many extra hours without pay? No, in fact they helped sponsor and lobby for these changes. But they do want to neutralize their biggest upponents in beating up on teachers!

I am proud to say that even though retired, I am a lifetime member of the Louisiana Association of Educators and I also have great respect and support for the Louisiana Federation of Teachers. I worked for 20 years as a staff member of the LAE and helped to win many important battles for teachers. I am now watching helplessly and frustrated the de-professionalization of teaching. It is sad to regularly get letters from dedicated teachers who are being driven out of the teaching profession because of the many ant-teacher policies and laws passed in recent years.

HB 418 will be going to a vote on the House floor probably the week after next. That means that every Representative will get to vote whether or not they want to deny educators one more benefit and whether they really want to stifle the voice of teachers in speaking out against bad education policies and in favor of improving benefits and status of the teaching profession. No, this won't destroy the teacher unions if it passes, but statistics show that when you deny a group of employees payroll deduction for the payment of union or association dues, the membership of those organizations declines and their influence is curtailed. This bill has nothing to do with Payroll Protection! Its only purpose is to reduce the influence of educators on education policy.

This is both Stupid and Ironic

I got an email from a frustrated teacher not long ago, basically saying the following:
 "I am sick and tired of the teaching profession being blamed for everything that parents are not doing in the rearing of their children. I have never before worked so hard to educate children and received so little support and appreciation for the job that I have done for 20 years.  If they want to take away my payroll deduction for dues, I just may not join in the future." 

All I can say to that is, wow how stupid! This is exactly what LABI wants to accomplish. Surely no one else in the teaching profession could possibly be willing to play into their hands this way. Look, I know how frustrated teachers must be at this point but such a reaction is childish and counterproductive!

I believe educators have a good chance of defeating this repressive and unproductive legislation. LABI is letting it be known that its PAC will contribute to legislators who help them do this dirty deed. But even so, all teachers have to do to defeat it is tell their Representative and Senators to vote No for HB 418! It's all going to be determined by how many emails they get (or don't get) from teachers opposing this.

SB 54 passed to Senate floor by Senate Education Committee

Senate bill 54 by Senator Broome is a well intentioned bill, but will in my opinion do nothing but harm by tying the hands of elementary school principals in maintaining discipline. This bill like many other changes in the laws in recent years relieves parents of their responsibility in making sure that students are orderly and do not deprive other students of their education! Please read my analysis of this below, and ask your Senator to vote "NO" on this bill when it goes to the Senate floor.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Critical Legislation in Senate Education Committee on April 30!

There are two very important bills that will be heard in the Senate Education Committee sometime Thursday morning (after adjournment of the Senate floor) that could drastically affect all K-12 educators. (Both teachers and principals) Please read this information and the bills linked here so that you can contact your Senator with your recommendation for his/her vote.

SB32 by Senator Mills is also sponsored by the Louisiana Association of Educators and would greatly improve the teacher and principal evaluation systems in Louisiana. The bill requires that the evaluation system be revamped to greatly reduce the effect of the highly inaccurate VAM ratings on both teachers and principals.

SB 32 would remove all requirements in the law for VAM ratings of educators, and would instead substitute multiple measures of student growth in achievement as part of the educator's evaluation. VAM could still be used but it could not count for more than 25% of the educator's evaluation. Here is a John Oliver video about the absurdity of VAM ratings and standardized testing in America.

Please read the full bill by clicking on the bill number above, because it contains many other important changes in the law. My opinion is that this bill would greatly improve the teacher and principal evaluation systems and would minimize the damaging effects of using VAM to overrule all other important measures of teacher effectiveness. If you agree with me, please send an email to each of the Senate Education Committee members asking them to vote "yes" for Senate bill 32.

SB 54 by Senator Broome is a well intentioned bill but in my opinion would be a huge mistake because it would tie the hands of our school principals in maintaining order in schools and in requiring that parents to take responsibility for the behavior of their children at school. Please consider asking the senators on the Senate Education Committee to vote "no" on SB 54.

This bill would prohibit all suspensions and expulsions of students in grades K-3 unless their behavior presents a threat to the physical well being of others. I can assure my readers that there are many extremely disruptive behaviors that do not necessarily rise to the level of being a threat to the physical wellbeing of others that is absolutely not acceptable in a school environment. Principals need to have the full authority to utilize both in-school and out-of-school suspension to correct this behavior and to require parents to take responsibility for their children.

Our elementary schools are not funded at near the level it would take to provide counselors and social workers and therapists that would be needed to control all of the unacceptable behavior of children that interferes with the education of other children. Sometimes there may be mental health issues involved that schools are not equipped to handle. It is time we stop making educators totally responsible for the unacceptable behavior of some children (a small minority). 

Ask the Senators on the Education Committee to vote "no" on SB 54!

Please send your emails to the following Senators on the Senate Education Committee, either today or early tomorrow morning.

Senator Conrad Appel (Chairman)
721 Papworth Avenue
Suite 102A
Metairie, LA 70005

(866) 946-3133
Senator Eric LaFleur (Vice-Chairman)
P.O. Box 617
Ville Platte, LA 70586

(337) 363-5019
Senator Dan Claitor
320 Somerulos Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70802

(225) 342-7602
Senator Elbert L. Guillory
633 East Landry Street
Opelousas, LA 70570

(337) 943-2457
Senator Jean-Paul J. Morrell
New Orleans Lakefront Terminal Building
6001 Stars & Stripes Blvd., Suite 221
New Orleans, LA 70126

(504) 284-4794
Senator Mike Walsworth
4007 White's Ferry Rd
Suite A
West Monroe, LA 71291

(318) 340-6453
Senator Mack "Bodi" White
808 O'Neal Lane
Baton Rouge, LA 70816

(225) 272-1324
Senator Page Cortez (Interim Member)
101 W. Farrell Road
Bldg. 5, Suite 100
Lafayette, LA 70508

(337) 993-7430