A few days ago, I started honoring people who defend public education and teachers against reckless assaults on them. One of the first of those on the honor roll was Lottie Beebe, an elected member of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Here is her response.
Diane, you are my hero. Thank you for your untiring efforts to keep everyone informed of what is happening in Louisiana. We must continue to be vocal and strive to educate the public to the truth regarding education reform. I think your latest effort is remarkable! I think it is a wonderful idea to recognize those who stand up for students and traditonal public schools. I hope your list is infinite.
Again, let me say I decided to seek the BESE position because of my desire to see positive changes in the education profession–contrary to the train wreck that is destined to occur. I attended a National Association of State School Boards’ meeting in Washington, DC in July and had the opportunity to hear a speaker say the following: No state should implement a teacher evaluation program with a 50% value added component–particularly, with the roll out of the Common Core (CC) curriculum. He specifically stated there will be a decline in student achievement due to the rigor of the (CC). Consequently, there will be a greater number of teachers who will receive an ineffective rating. What are we doing in Louisiana? (50% Value-Added)
To add insult to injury, we are rolling out the teacher evaluation program statewide without a full year of piloting. My school district was one of nine participating school districts and the rubric used during the 4 month pilot was scrapped for another. Using a quote from another state–New York–”we are building the plane as we fly it!” Make no mistake about it, I am not anti-teacher evaluations. Teacher evaluations have been in place for years in Louisiana; however, a few districts neglected to evaluate annually. This fact was used during the 2012 Louisiana Legislative session to garner support for education reform and to vilify teachers, in my opinion.
During my participation at the National Association of State Boards of Education, I was amazed to hear another presenter mention the year, 2014, will likely be education’s Armaggedon–”eduggedon” or edu–cliff. I agree with this assessment due to the likely decline in student achievement, increased teacher ineffective ratings, and the negative campaign against educators and traditional schools.
This reform movement is, by design, to dismantle tradional public schools and the aforementioned prediction is what will likely convince many that our traditional schools are dismal failures. We must continue our efforts to educate the public and do everything we can to promote excellence. When our students succeed, we must celebrate and publicize their success. There are many outstanding traditional schools in this country and Louisiana. As a grandparent of two grandsons enrolled in Louisiana’s public schools, I can proudly say they are receiving a quality education at C rated schools which are deemed failing by Louisiana’s standards. (Somebody, please tell me when did a C become a failing grade?) Someone obviously lied to me! I was always told a C grade was average.
Thanks to all who responded to Diane’s call. I truly appreciate the emails! I also want to publicly express my gratitude to Ms. Carolyn Hill, my BESE colleague. I want to publicly thank the members of the Louisiana Legislature who had the intestinal fortitude to stand up to ALEC and the governor –those who voted against Act 1 and Act 2–Choice. Often, criticism is generically stated; yet, there are many legislators who did not drink the Kool-aid. On behalf of Louisiana’s educators, I want to thank them. Thanks to all of the other courageous educators who stand before our students each day providing a valuable service–educating and molding our future!
Lottie P. Beebe, District 3
Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education