Rodolfo Espinoza reports that Lafayette, Louisiana, is experiencing a major exodus of teachers who have resigned because of confusing and conflicting directions from the state bureaucracy. Espinoza is president of the local teachers’ association.
Lafayette is in a crisis of employee resignations and early retirements. Changes in state policies spearheaded by unqualified state leaders, combined with the failure of our local district to advocate for its employees have left teachers overwhelmed and frustrated.
Since 2012, 556 teachers have left our system. Resignations are far outpacing retirements with 343 teacher resignations compared with 184 retirements since 2012. In 2012 alone, teacher resignations doubled from 81 to 164.
Bureaucracy created by the current data-driven accountability system is a major source of teachers’ frustrations. The state and districts are consumed by a school letter grade, the formula for which constantly changes under State Superintendent John White and BESE. For example, high schools are now judged on the ACT scores of all students, regardless of whether or not they are going to attend college. We now require students to take not only the ACT but also the “Practice ACT” plus hours of ACT test prep. This numbers game does little to help struggling students academically or emotionally. It is yet another mandate that allows adults sitting in offices to say they are helping “the kids” and holding schools accountable, while Johnny still can’t comprehend what he’s reading. This year in Lafayette, a typical sophomore will take 25 district and state standardized tests, consuming 25 percent of the school calendar for the sake of “data.”
The outcome: A predictable school letter grade that punishes schools and the personnel who serve at-risk populations.
At some point, even Louisiana has to worry how they will replace the teachers who have retired and resigned. And who will want to become a teacher when working conditions are so poor and teachers are treated so poorly by the state education department.