As an experienced, retired educator I feel I must speak out about the serious damage being done to public education in Louisiana by Governor Jindal and State Education Superintendent John White.
Many educators are shocked and disappointed about the drastic cuts to higher education, however my greatest concern is for K-12 education, where I was privileged to have a rewarding career as a teacher and education leader. It is like watching a slow motion train wreck to see the thousands of dedicated teachers who are retiring early because of the insane education policies of this administration.
The attempted privatization of public education using vouchers and charter schools is doing serious damage to education. Contrary to what our new non-educator leaders claim, Louisiana has had a basically sound system of public education. Our student performance was steadily improving before Jindal. All we needed to do was authorize our school administrators to restore basic discipline and safety to some of our troubled schools and make sure that our school curricula included both strong college prep and excellent career programs.
Instead Jindal and White policies are now putting our school tax dollars into the hands of profiteers and education charlatans.
Basically all the state takeover schools converted to charters have been absolute disasters both in student performance and in fiscal management. The so called Recovery District remains the second lowest performing school district behind St. Helena.
The recent audits of the voucher schools have been a total sham. The State Superintendent pronounced the voucher schools in compliance with state requirements even though almost none of them kept proper books to demonstrate compliance.
Finally and most damaging, Jindal and White have rammed through a terribly inaccurate and unfair teacher evaluation system that is driving our most dedicated educators out of the profession. Our teachers are being forced to do almost nothing but rehearse students for state tests instead of real teaching.
Teachers were not the problem to begin with. It was the poverty in our state and the lack of positive parental involvement compounded by the arrogant polices of a State Department of Education which is now dominated by amateur educators.
Lets restore sanity to our education system, stop the teacher bashing, and support our professional educators in doing the effective job they desperately want to do for our children!
Michael Deshotels, retired educator