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

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

May war and human persecution be replaced by peace and respect for all peoples.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Our Schools Are Mostly Teaching the Wrong Stuff!

Here is a video that demonstrates just how helpless and ill equipped for real life our graduates really are after all the stupid reforms we have imposed on our public schools.

Several years after trying to jam the Common Core stuff down all students' throats, we find them averaging a pitifully low score of 38% on their English and math tests and they still can't balance their checkbooks or calculate the devasting effect credit card interest has on their standard of living. But to add insult to injury, they can't even cook their families a simple healthy meal. (See the video). So now about 2 thirds of our graduates are over-weight and prone to diseases like diabetes. So what was the answer of our school reformers? Cut out Physical Education!

About ten years ago or guidance counselors answered a survey about changes to the curriculum they would recommend. A huge majority said we needed more vocational career choices in our schools for students who did not plan to go to college. So what did BESE do? They forced more students to take the college prep curriculum based on the assumption that more strong medicine would do the trick. The result? We now have a smaller percentage of our students staying in college than we had then.  Many of our college prep courses have been watered down so we could increase our graduation rate. So both the potential college prep and technical prep students have been shortchanged.

When are we going to fire the phony educators like Betsy DeVos (she will be appointed by Trump) and John White from their positions of authority over education and put professional educators in charge who believe in preparing our kids for the real world?