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28.1.09

Spoiled brats rally to protect selves rather than students

Once more the world got treated to a display of everything that is wrong with Louisiana, and more specifically East Baton Rouge, education when a couple of dozen teachers in the Louisiana Association of Educators union protested in front of the Board Elementary and Secondary Education complex over the Board’s decision to take 10 failing schools, eight in East Baton Rouge, out of local control and into state control because of years of exceptionally low performance in those schools.

“LAE is fearful that if Superintendent (Paul) Pastorek continues to systematically take over more and more schools in East Baton Rouge Parish, he will continue this destruction of our educational system across the state of Louisiana,” said Joyce Haynes, president of the teacher union. Of course, it’s hard to imagine that among the schools the state already has taken over or said it will that they already weren’t evidence of a destroyed educational system in part at the hands of these very teachers and others like them. (Maybe it has something to do with the fact that yesterday, a school day by all accounts, had these teachers playing hooky to do the protesting – that shows some great devotion to their educational mission.)

One Isaiah Myers, a teacher at Capitol Middle School and a teacher last year at Glen Oaks Middle, said the schools the state has taken over already are doing worse than they did before. At best this is misinformed; at worst, it is a lie. The truth is, a couple of months ago scores indicated substantial progress among the New Orleans schools now run by or on behalf of the state. A few have come out of failing status, and even with big gains some still aren’t which just goes to show the tremendously bad shape they had been in under local control.

He also said the takeovers prematurely end worthwhile improvements. “We have a lot of people putting a lot of blood, sweat and tears into improving our scores.” Maybe not: the new takeovers predominantly were of schools whose scores were decreasing. And even if you put a lot into improving scores, if they don’t that’s irrelevant and it’s time to try something new, like the state taking over.

Not that this crew is likely to have the ability to turn around such sub-par student performance, as judged by remarks made by Carole White, president of the East Baton Rouge chapter of LAE. She said that by labeling schools as failing the state is also labeling their students, discouraging them from succeeding, and creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. “What a terrible message to send to our young students in this state,” White said. “They certainly are not failures.”

Really? We’re talking about schools where over half of the students, sometimes a much higher fraction, failed their subject tests, consistently over the years. What does White consider passing, them being able to tie their own shoelaces? When an educator doesn’t know the difference between success and failure, it’s no wonder they can’t teach children the bare minimum needed to demonstrate minor competence. And the trick is simple: to avoid a very appropriate and valid label, earn your way to shedding it.

One also must be aghast at the absolutely malignant self-absorption of these folk. One sign at the rally read “Walk in my shoes,” as if being a teacher represents some hazardous, underappreciated occupation. These spoiled brats at nearly $50,000 a year each on average out-earn the typical Louisiana household by about a third – for nine months work.

Of course, understand the real reason why the LAE is trying to foment discord against reasonable steps taken to resolve a problem its members have failed at for years, if not decades: the state taking control of schools reduces the union’s power. The process often creates charter schools that place greater accountability on teachers, with greater flexibility in personnel decisions, making them work harder to justify their lofty salaries and generous benefits. It also typically terminates employment at schools taken over, and given that one of the reasons these schools have performed poorly is because of general teacher incompetence, jobs thought to be sure things for them are lost.

Recall that the only objective of teachers’ unions is to transfer as much of the taxpayers’ resources into the hands of their members with as little accountability and effort as possible. By protecting the deadwood that infests Louisiana schools, to the detriment of education, the morale of good teachers, and of taxpayer resources, unions are a blight on educational progress in the state.

Which this rally demonstrated yet one more time. In the end, it was not a rally to support education, but rather to support those teachers who are deficient in the subject areas they teach, and/or who wish to avoid accountability, and/or can’t manage a classroom. Serious teachers who want to see institutional structures and attitudes swept away that retard educational quality should applaud the state takeover.

4 comments:

James S said...

How dare you tell the #$$% truth about our beloved educators!!!!

You need to whack the school board and front office a few hard ones, too...

Anonymous said...

Surely James S is jesting when he makes the comments that he makes; however if the truth does hit home, then so be it. For too long the taxpayers of this state have had to subsidize the shortcomings of an educational system that has longed for change. Any time there is change, then there is growing pains and those that feel anxiety associated with these changes and have not the ability to deal with the changes...i.e. East B.R. teachers. Dr. Sadow, you have touched upon a subject that is very keen to my heart, as a former educator. If it's broke....fix it!....and stop talking about it. Those that can't adapt....get the hell out of the way.

Anonymous said...

My favorite part is the self fulfilling prophecy, like blasting sunshine up their buts would turn them into rainbows. According to recent research, feeding self esteem when accomplishment doesn't match it is no better than not feeding esteem, except that it's worse because people with fragile high esteem have a great sense of entitlement and respond aggresively when that is threatened. So I guess, if we want to live in a state full of pathological narcissists, we should follow the teachers union's advice.

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