For now I will overlook the more obvious question as to why he wanted “reform” in the first place – that’s easily summed up as 2 scoops of higher political aspirations, drowned in sticky sweet obligations to political contributors, and topped off with the creamy false premises that the private sector and competition always provides better services than publicly funded endeavors and perhaps a cherry of vindictiveness towards teachers unions – which he should now definitely view as staunch political enemies.
The reason he is pushing this legislation through now is to deal a deathblow to public education and unions while they are weak. Jindal is not a dumb guy. He knows it’s only a matter of time before value added gets tossed on the scrap pile history of good intentions gone awry. He knows charter schools and non publics don’t always do a better job educating students, and many times make their plights’ worse. He even has to suspect that many students that will say they are going to virtual schools will just use that as an easy way to drop out. That is why he wants to exclude those schools from testing or any comparative evaluation. His goal is not to educate students, but to destroy his political opponents and provide financial boons to his allies.
If you truly believed you were right about something thousands and millions of people and political enemies claimed you were dead wrong about, wouldn’t you embrace and relish the chance to prove them wrong?
Jindal is selling out the state and our children for past and future political contributions and a shot at the big time. Time is not on his side though. It’s only a matter of time before the education panacea in the form of unregulated charter and non public schools is shown to be absurd, but he will already have achieved his true political goals. And I’m sure by then will already have another handy scapegoat to blame his “failures”‘on. In fact, ALEC had probably already informed him of the next group he cam blame, so maybe we should just be talking to them?
While I was working at the Louisiana Department of Education I had a number of sources tell me about what I have decided to call a Shadow School. A Shadow School is just an unreported school that has its own students, teachers, principal, and building but which goes unreported to the State and Federal Government. (I actually investigated the claims and have documentation of two of them which I will release once I put a decent post together. If anyone actually pays attention to me I expect much of the evidence to disappear.) A Shadow School offers many advantages over a regularly reported school. Here are a list of some of the advantages.
A Shadow School can allow a school district to evade federal desegregation orders. Shadow schools can have any ethnic makeup they want.
You can build a brand new school building for wealthier areas of your county or parish and staff it with the most qualified teachers and the most advanced technology while keeping your poorer or darker skinned kids in the older less well staffed schools so you wont have a desegregation order declared for you. No one would have the data to show you are doing this.
Schools with low SPS scores – which are determined by a combination of test scores, attendance and dropout rates – can be taken over by the state. If you have an alternative school with low performers you can “close” your school on paper with the state by reporting all your students to schools that are in no danger of being taken over. School districts have two or more sets of “books” to do this, just like the Mafia. If you have undisclosed academic magnet schools you can send those students to your borderline terrible schools and boost their scores above the takeover mark.
Schools with excessively dangerous events like murders, gun offenses and rapes have to be reported to the Feds as persistently dangerous and students have to be offered enrollment options elsewhere in the parish. By dispersing/reporting your alternative school discipline students across other schools you can escape this reporting requirement and keep your schools as dangerous as you like without anyone the wiser.
Special education students that are suspended out of school for 10 or more days must be reported to the Feds. Schools with high rates of these instances can be investigated and Special Masters can be assigned at School district expense, to oversee, monitor and correct these situations. By spreading SPED students around a Shadow School can have much higher rates of non-compliance without raising any red flags.
One of the statistics the Feds like to keep tabs on for NCLB (no child left behind) is highly qualified teacher percentages through their Edfacts EDEN data collections. They monitor this at the school level. Obviously when you don’t report a school you can’t report a percentage. And when you are reporting teachers and students at schools they never set foot in all your other numbers are questionable as well.
Sometimes Special Education students can require lots of special accommodations to allow them to attend school with qualified teachers in the least restrictive setting determined on their IEP. With a Shadow School arrangement you can report a special education student anywhere you want, while actually keeping them in a broom closet at an undisclosed site. All you have to do is decide that broom closet is a “program” and report the student at a home based school. You could tell the state the student was attending an academic magnet with your most Highly Qualified teachers, have an academic assistance teacher drop off some homework one a month outside the broom closet and no one would be the wiser.
I suppose the possibilities are endless. It’s a shame it got so political that it became clear anyone who tried to investigate or report this would be fired. I was told BESE would take up this issue in December of 2011, but I never saw anything in regards to this. I guess these things just take time. It’s only been 4 years since one of the Shadow schools I found opened up. I mean, it took almost two weeks to completely dismantle most of the public school system in Louisiana and replace it with unaccountable charter schools and non publics. I should probably just give them another day or two. . . I’m sure this issue is on the top of their to-do list.
I do have to wonder though. If this is what BESE, LDOE, and Legislature let public school systems get away with, what cool new things can we expect to see from our hundreds of new virtually unregulated and unmonitored non-public and charter schools?
In 1692 an unreasoning hysteria gripped a colonial township known as Salem Massachusetts. What came after became known as the Salem Witch Trials. A number of theories exist as to why dozens of women and men were railroaded into being declared witches based on absurd or non-existent evidence, but i would submit what was appealing to people was the relatively simple explanation and easy solution (except if you were accused of being a witch.)
Your children are misbehaving and wiggling in their seats at suppertime? A witch must have pinched them.
Your dog has an extraordinary amount of fleas and is losing it’s hair? Obvious witchcraft!
The local tavern owner served you a witches brew instead of a beer which drove you mad? Hang her and confiscate her property for your own!
All very ridiculous accusations, but it’s really simple to accuse a “witch” and pardon yourself from having ineffective discipline methods for your children, or hygiene for your dog, or self-control of yourself when you drink.
This is exactly the same type of hysteria sweeping the same nation now, only the witches are “bad teachers” responsible for all the social ills plaguing our country. Then, as now, a kangaroo court is being used to convict “bad teachers,” although the court goes by the name: Value Added. The judges are faceless bureaucrats that took a few seminars over the summer and think the reason kids haven’t been keeping up with students in the international area boils down to two things. Teachers are bad, or teachers are lazy.
Pseudo educators and mathematicians are preaching the gospel of the Value Added model in much the same way the clergy in Salem promoted their tests for witches. In Value Added analysis, people are flagged as “bad teachers”, the witches of Value Added. They are presumed guilty and terminated as a result of these flaky self-serving tests and the peasants rejoice!
Problem solved and it required no effort on our part!
However, The tests don’t even try to address other possible causes for low student performance, such as medical diagnosis, family problems or lack of involvement, poverty or drug abuse to name a few. Instead, Value Added focuses on only the symptoms, low test scores, and arbitrarily links a teacher to those symptoms – in the hopes of finding a witch to crucify.
Value Added has never been about improving student performance or providing input for solutions. The issues facing society are complicated – far more than what can encapsulated on a few bubbled in answers on a few tested subjects. Value added has been all about identifying some “witches” to fix the blame for all our problems.
A scarlet letter B for all to see!
A blame based solution doesn’t cost much to implement, it absolves most people of any responsibility for a problem (both are key elements for making it popular) and it usually just creates more problems and solves none.
On the upside, it appears we will never run out of witches.