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21.1.09

Some LA educators must put children, not selves, first

Sticking with the recent theme of economic development to mitigate outmigration from Louisiana, last week served up some perfect examples of attitudes in the area of education which explain why economic development has been so difficult to create in the state.

One set of events revolved around the delayed announcement by the state of what local schools would be taken over by it. The state would take eight Baton Rouge and two Shreveport schools under its wing. In every case, these schools had been scored as “academically unacceptable” for at least four years, and in each case not just majorities, but large majorities of their students were scoring in the bottom categories in tested subject areas. Overall, in almost every category at least two-fifths of East Baton Rouge students cannot perform up to the basic level of achievement, and for some grades and subject areas it is over three-fifths.

Yet concerning the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, not only did its School Board fight the possibility of 12 schools taken from their control, rallying interest groups and religious groups to back it, but when the eight were designated to be removed talk from it turned to lawsuits to prevent the perfectly legal transfer. One must wonder why such desperation exists to keep these schools governed locally.


It’s not like the low performance is anything new, so over the past few years the Board either turned a blind eye to the problem or implemented ineffective solutions. Either case would argue for a new approach by a new institution; just how many years does the Board want in order to show definitively it can’t solve the problem?

Of course, this consideration is irrelevant to the Board, who by its opposition is looking out for its own power and privilege at the expense of children. The more schools it has, the more resources it has and the more powerful it can be. To remove schools, thus resources, threatens that power. If it cared less about its own power and more about children getting a quality education, it would have changed things long ago then and now would facilitate the transfer. If it truly cared about educational quality, it would have recognized (long ago) its inability to provide such quality and deliberately sought anything better, including reducing its own power, because it’s hard to imagine a worse job could be done. (Recently it came up with a half-hearted plan belatedly that would have turned some schools into charter schools.) The fact that now this is resisted only shows it does not have the best interests of its former charges at heart and reflects shamefully on these politicians.

Meanwhile, a different set of established interests found another way to show disdain of children’s education. In Monroe, teachers and support workers tried to stage a sick-out strike because they weren’t going to get a raise that traditionally they had in the past. Statistically, the Monroe Schools District’s teachers each make over $40,000 a year for their nine months of work, a couple of thousand dollars higher than the median family income for Louisianans working an entire year, while anywhere from a quarter to half, depending on grade and subject level, of their students cannot meet basic levels of achievement.

While it seemed the sick-out did not have many adherents among teachers, the fact that some of them and unions advocated it shows just how little they cared to perform their jobs and how much money they wanted to grub. That these privileged ingrates, whose students on the ACT average 18.3 meaning they can’t get into any college that has any admission standards, think they can be derelict in their duty speaks volumes as to why educational quality is suffering in Monroe city schools.

Until the state gets more educators, both in the classroom and in administrative and policy-making positions, unlike those in East Baton Rouge and Monroe, who see as their first priority the educating of students instead of trying to acquire more money or power, establishing the quality educational base needed to ramp up economic development in Louisiana is going to be most difficult.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Drawing attention to failing schools (notably mentioned in Obama's inaugural address) is a no win trap for conservatives. The more attention is brought to how schools fail, the more teachers will blame home environments, the more pressure there will be for programs like Obama's zero to five that gets kids into the system as soon as they're out of the womb.

This accelerates the cycle in which families don't think it's their job to teach their own children (especially not by example), just to be the babysitters. The government encroaches into the psyche of each progressive generation as being more and more essential, and individual values become more and more divergent from the welfare of the whole society which sees them as lacking compassion and equality.

National socialism rises up as a way of approaching compassion and fairness for the whole community which cannot possibly afford to continue its generosity to fellow comrades (read: government jobs that would not otherwise be competitively implemented but must be out of generosity) without taking from selfish and greedy nations, and...hey, wait a minute! This has all happened before!

James S said...

What a bunch of tripe! The kind of looniness that results in the caliber of schools that we have now.

Anonymous said...

James,
It's all about supply, demand, and price. If you create a government jobs program, you create jobs that in a competitive world would not get done; the only reason to create a jobs program is because current competitive programs don't include those jobs. So you get the government injecting money into the market in the form of wages.

These government infrastructure jobs will decrease the available supply of infrastructure workers, so price will go up because you have the same amount of money for work chasing fewer resources (workers). Wages will be priced higher than the market because the government is ignoring competitive market forces and acting out of sympathy for workers.

This is called a bubble (it may sound familiar, as in "housing bubble" or "dot com bubble"). In the housing sector, our current economic downturn was brought on by a bubble in which through CRA and other programs government ignored competitive market forces and acted out of sympathy. This resulted in huge debts.

To maintain the jobs bubble intended to bailout the housing bubble would require huge debts. Eventually, government will either shut down the jobs program resulting in another bailout bubble out of sympathy to run up more debt, or it will keep the jobs program going while running up massive debts.

At some point, people will lose confidence in our currency, and what's happened to the stock market in the last six months will happen to the US dollar. So to maintain our sympathy induced standard for what every American must be provided, we'll have to take real goods from somewhere else, because our dollars won't buy them anymore.