LFT responds to school report card

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This statement was issued by Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan in response to today’s press release by the Department of Education announcing the 2012 school report cards:

Less than a year ago, Louisiana’s public school teachers were referred to in the harshest terms as our governor declared that some 44 percent of our schools were failures. Governor Jindal then employed a school letter grade system devised by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's to call for the most radical upheaval of education policy in our state’s history.

Today Superintendent John White announced that, by his department’s own reckoning, a record number of schools have earned an “A” grade and the percentage of unsatisfactory schools has fallen from 44 percent to 36 percent.

For the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, this begs a couple of questions:

  • Were these gains the result of the contentious 2012 legislative session, which created the largest private and religious school voucher program in the nation, opened the floodgates to privatized school courses, virtually eliminated teacher tenure and certification requirements for charter schools, and dramatically expanded charter schools?
  • Are schools making progress because teacher rights have been abridged, their profession slandered and their salaries made dependent on standardized test scores?

The answer to both those questions is no, because the growth in student achievement occurred before the so-called reforms demanded by Gov. Jindal went into effect. Obviously, the reforms that were forced through the legislature in Acts 1 and 2 were not as critical as proponents argued.

In a press release issued today, Superintendent of Education John White said, “Every time we raise standards, students and schools rise to the challenge. We raised the bar and we saw schools improve in every grade level."

That quote seems to elevate the value of the "bar raisers" while minimizing the constant, most important factor in student achievement: the teacher in the classroom.

The fact is that Louisiana’s public school teachers continue to work extremely hard to address the needs of all students and to meet the shifting goals and priorities set by the bar raisers.