With all the education reforms taking place in Louisiana, it’s clear that Governor Bobby Jindal wants to be a national leader in what is now called the “education reform” movement. Louisiana is leading the nation in the race to the bottom, having adopted every bad idea in ALEC’s catalogue of ways to tear up your public school system.
The Louisiana law was saluted by Indiana’s state superintendent Tony Bennett, head of a group of ultra-conservative state superintendents called Chiefs for Change, who share Jindal’s desire to get rid of public education if at all possible. Bennett said, “These student-centered reforms will completely transform Louisiana and its students,” by introducing a “marketplace of choices.” Part of that “marketplace of choices,” we now know, is letting students take tax dollars away from their public school and pay it to universities, private businesses, individual teachers, tutoring businesses, online companies, or anyone who sets himself up and says he is selling education.
Now we knew about the voucher program and we knew about the vast expansion of charters and for-profit online corporations. And we knew that teachers will be fired if the scores don’t go up in their classes every year.
But here is a new way to “reform” the schools. The state board of education, in its infinite wisdom, decided that teachers in charter schools don’t need to be certified. Understand that certification in Louisiana is not a real high bar to clear. A teacher need have only a college degree, a grade point average of 2.5 out of 4, and pass a national teachers’ exam.
But not for charter teachers! They don’t need certification. State board member Charles Roemer, a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School, insists that charter schools need to be free to “try new approaches.” One new approach is to have uncertified teachers.
But wait, Roemer has an even better idea! According to an article in the local press:
Roemer said the issue of teacher credentials should be left to individual charter schools.
Some who even lack an undergraduate degree could do a good job in the classroom, he said.
Roemer said charter schools should be given flexibility, then be held accountable for how students fare in the classroom.
Roemer knows a good bit about charter schools. His sister Caroline Roemer Shirley is executive director of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools.
Teachers in charter schools, if Mr. Roemer has his way, won’t even need to be college graduates. Now there is an innovation. Just hire anyone who wants to teach, without regard to qualifications, and see if they can raise test scores. Do they need a high school diploma? Why? Why not go for broke and wipe out all credentialism?
This is indeed new ground in the “education reform” movement.