Enclosed is my letter/response to an editorial that appeared September 22, in AmericanPress.com, under the title WE MUST DEMAMD MORE FROM EDUCATION.
Once again Reformers have touted a new report that they think endorses their actions, while it actually does the opposite. In the recent editorial “WE MUST DEMAMD MORE FROM EDUCATION” that appeared in the September 22 issue of American Press the editorial staff bemoaned a “grade” by the US Chamber of Commerce that shows Louisiana flunking 5 categories related to performance and “Scoring” a D+ in the category “truth in advertising.” (In truth, I think that score should be an F as well.) Once again we came in 49th of 50 states (praise be to Mississippi), and the only A we received was in the category of parental options, or school choice. This report covers the last 7 years (since about 2007) and shows that we have failed as a state to improve the lot of education over Bobby Jindal’s entire tenure as Louisiana Governor. Moreover it shows that our last two education Reform poster boy superintendents of Education, Paul Pastorek and John White, have done more harm than good for the children of our state. . .and wasted piles of taxpayer money doing it.
Both White (and Pastorek before him) have firmly embraced every unproven education Reform tactic in the book, including linking teachers to test scores, workforce development curricula to exclusion of all else, data driven polices focused on narrow metrics, theoretically higher Common Core standards, Recovery School Districts, closing “failing” schools, chartering schools to every vendor that asks, embracing school vouchers, and creating Nationally recognized Accountability Systems (that change every year and are chocked full of “bonus points”) to name a few. Sadly, under their tenure we have almost an entire generation of failure in our public schools.
The lone A in the report, in school choice, is ironically the most glaring failure. School Choice has never been proven or found to improve student outcomes, but it does cost a lot of money. If school choice had any impact whatsoever, wouldn’t you think student performance would have improved, not declined? Choice is however responsible for the increased costs and lower return on our education dollars that the Chamber report highlights.
Contrary to what the author of the previous editorial stated, it is exactly the right time to point fingers.
Fingers should be pointed at John White, current State Superintendent of Education for failing out children and wasting our money with his now proven to be overly-expensive and failed policies. Fingers should also be pointed at our BESE board and in particular the President of the Board, Chas Roemer, and his sister Caroline Shirley Roemer (Executive Director of the Louisiana Association of Charter Schools) which falsely advertises all charter schools as superior to all public schools. A big finger should be pointed squarely at Bobby Jindal (you choose which one) for putting these snake oil salesmen in positions of power over our children (and a lion share of our state budget) and failing to hold them accountable for their abject and irrefutable failure.
Education reformers never hesitated to point their fingers at “bad teachers”, “failed schools”, or curriculum they didn’t believe was “rigorous” enough. It is time to hold them accountable just as they sought to hold everyone accountable but themselves. We have identified the disease, we won’t cure the state of education in our State by standing back and allowing school choice and fraudulent education “reforms” continue to grow and fester to the point where public education becomes incurable.
2015 Candidate for BESE, district 6