I received an email from Lottie Beebe, a member of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. She is an experienced educator who won a seat on the board and has been a voice of sanity in a dark time.
|As a member of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), I want to thank you for your continued efforts to inform education stakeholders across our wonderful country and beyond of the concerns related to Louisiana’s education reform. As an experienced educator of 27 years, I decided to seek the BESE position because I truly wanted to contribute to the responsible reform of our educational system. However, shortly after securing the District 3 BESE seat, I realized my voice would be muffled by a group outnumbering me whose vision is strictly that of CHOICE.
My desire is to preserve traditional public education; however, I don’t see this happening in Louisiana. My idea of reform is to identify the strengths of the education system and build from those without totally dismantling the traditonal public education system. I recognize our society is broken. Until we acknowledge the poverty, apathy, dysfunction, lack of parental involvement, and all other factors that adversely impact student learning, we will continue to struggle to improve our educational ranking at the local, state, federal, and international levels–regardless of the educational setting. We can no longer continue to bury our heads in the sand. To quote a Louisiana legislator in a letter to his colleagues, he stated, “our society is broken and we can’t fix it.” Thus, in my opinion, the blame was placed on educators and there was a rush to “fix education.”
On another note, I am so proud of the educators throughout Louisiana who exhibited professionalism despite the constant criticism heard throughout the education reform debates. I applaud our educators for their continued commitment and desire for educational excellence despite the teacher bashing that occurred this year leading up to and during the Louisiana legislative session. Television commercials aired frequently showing students banging their heads against lockers in an attempt to vilify our hardworking teachers and administrators. Despite the educator bashing, the release of 2012 test scores revealed academic improvement across Louisiana’s public schools. Imagine this! The improvement was attributed to the most recent education reforms. (Not true). For the last decade, Louisiana’s test scores have improved and can be verified via the Louisiana Department of Education website.
In closing, I will say to those in other states who want to emulate Louisiana’s education reform–BEWARE! As Ms. Raviitch and many others have communicated, where is the Accountability? Louisiana’s traditonal schools will be compelled to adhere to stringent federal and state guidelines where voucher and charter schools can exercise flexibility in curriculum, teacher evaluation, certification requirements, etc. How do we measure success when we are not comparing apples to apples or competing on an equitable field? Competition has been a resounding theme in Louisiana’s education reform debate. Imagine a football game—how fair is it for traditional schools (without the football gear) to compete with vouchers and charters who are in full game attire–helmets, etc? Who do you think stands the better chance of winning? My point, exactly! I am a voice for responsible education reform and welcome the competition as long as it is fair! THis is not the case in Louisiana and I predict it is only a matter of time before this ed reform movement will find its way to your communities.