Friday, January 20, 2017

Trump: " an education system flush with cash which leaves our students deprived of all knowledge"

The small part of President Trump's inauagrial address that referred to public education hit a new low even for Trump. As a retired educator who researches the facts about public education, I am shocked and appalled that the new president could be so inaccurate and insulting to educators who always give their very best to their students. Not all, but most children in our public schools receive an excellent education and their education is quite superior to what students got in the 50's for example. (This is the time period most observers believes Trump compares the present to when he talks about making America great again) I taught as far back as the 60's and I can assure Trump that even though my colleagues and I did a good job, it was still not as good as teachers are doing today. The students we educated went to the moon, created advanced computers, the internet, and even the technology that will help us conquer global warming.

To indeit all public schools as failures because a small portion of our schools are facing extreme challenges because of poverty and neglect in our society, is nothing short of slanderous.

Trump's new education secretary believes that the problems of our schools can be solved by implementing  minimal accountability privatization schemes. The problem with that approach is that we already have ample evidence that school privatization is wasteful of our tax dollars and does not produce as good results as our real public schools. See this most recent study of the charter schools in New Orleans that revealed that such schools spend more on administration and less on the classroom. My most recent analysis shows the RSD schools in New Orleans rating at the 18th percentile compared to all other districts in the state.

My impression is that Trump knows almost nothing about public education in this country. Unfortunately this has not stopped him from making outrageously incorrect statements that are designed to tear down this necessary very critical part of our country's infrastructure.

Educators and parents who believe in our public education system will need to be prepared to defend education from the destructive Trump agenda.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Betsy DeVos Superbly Unqualified to be Secretary of Education!

Taking the idea started by President Obama of appointing a non-educator to the highest education post in the nation to extreme absurdity, Trump has nominated a non-educator who is the biggest enemy of public schools to run our federal education department. This appointment if approved will be nothing short of disastrous for the education of our children. See this video clip of education experts including Diane Ravitch describing the qualifications and philosophy of Betsy DeVos.

Betsy DeVos and Trump have made it clear that their number one objective on education is to implement as much privatization of schools as possible across the nation. We in Louisiana have already had a very bitter dose of privatization by the Jindal/White reform of schools in our state. When first proposed by Jindal, school choice was promised to be a utopia for both parents and educators who wanted better education for all students and better recognition and empowerment of our best teachers. Here  are some of the results:

  • Parents would be able to choose better education for their children by sending them to charter schools authorized by the state recovery district, and to private voucher schools often run by churches. The result: The charter schools in the Louisiana Recovery District after more than 10 years are some of the worst performing schools in the state; to the point that several have been totally closed down or returned to the original school boards. The best performing part of the Recovery District in New Orleans which took over many non-failing schools now perform in the bottom one-fifth of the state. This, just released report, shows that they greatly increased administrative costs while paying their teachers the lowest in the state. Many of the voucher schools have majority unqualified teachers and have the lowest student performance scores in the state. Sending a child to some of these s chools could be considered a form of child abuse!
  • John Stossel and others who are promoting Betsy DeVos and school choice have assured their viewers that the proliferation of more vouchers, more charters and choice of these schools for parents would reward and empower the best teachers to demand the highest salaries and the most control over their classrooms. The truth is in Louisiana our legislature passed a merit pay plan for teachers based on student performance that turned out to be a supreme boondoggle. Some top teachers got the worst value added ratings while teachers of non-tested subjects qualified in much greater numbers for the meager merit pay than did the math and English teachers. But to add insult to injury, in most parishes teachers had to give up their step increases to fund the merit pay because Jindal did not provide one penny to local school systems to fund his merit pay scheme. Considering the insane shift to test prep at the expense of teacher designed instruction, I will let each teacher answer the question of whether or not they feel more empowered by the shift to choice and test based accountability.
Finally, I would urge my readers to view this video of Senator Elizabeth Warren, questioning DeVos about what steps she would take to prevent the rampant ripoffs of students in higher education by private "fake colleges" such as the Trump University that was forced to pay back 25 million in fees to the students that were conned into paying exorbitant fees for worthless seminars.

Please contact both of our Louisiana Senators, Senator John Kennedy and Senator Bill Cassidy and ask them to vote "no" to the Betsy DeVos confirmation!

Call your US Senators at 1-855-882-6229. The person answering the phone will ask you which Senator you wish to contact and your zip code. You will then be allowed to leave a message with the Senator's legislative assistant. (I believe the switchboard to the Senators's offices opens after 8:00 am central time)
Note: Something or someone has blocked Senator Cassidy's office from the number above, however you can leave a message for Senator Cassidy at any of his local offices below:
Baton Rouge: 225-929-7711
Alexandria: 318-448-7176
Lafayette: 337-261-1400
Lake Charles: 337-493-5398
Shreveport: 318-798-3215