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15.9.11

Resist attempts to put teacher jobs ahead of children


The slogan of teacher unions – leave no union member behind – was on full display when the state’s Advisory Committee on Educator Evaluation met. By contrast, at best any interest in children’s education was feigned.

This panel was formed as a result of enactment of Act 54 of 2010 that changed the way teacher evaluations occur. The legislation specified scoring half of an annual evaluation (formerly conducted every three years) on the basis of student improvement in a subject area from the previous year, with the other half being on subjective assessments of teaching. However, not every subject area lends itself to objective subject-area testing and details of the subjective half remained unspecified, hence the purpose of the committee, comprised of 23 members, mostly teachers, with slots for representatives of both of the state’s major teachers’ unions, to figure out the details of assessment.

Rather than do that, unions whined how they were not being allowed input into the process, even though they had plenty during the legislative process that created it and through their panel membership – and then proceeded to make suggestions outside of the scope of the law that represented a desire to reverse a battle already lost. That input consisted of – surprise – reducing the objective portion of the evaluation as that will make clearer who cannot sufficiently improve students.

14.9.11

Jindal endorsements tip his future, delayed ambitions

Gov. Bobby Jindal has gone on an endorsement binge, including a pick outside the fall state elections, all of which tells us about his future plans.

In state, Jindal followed a pattern of picking mostly Republicans when facing off against Democrats, seldom voicing a preference where two of the same party compete. The latter follows the tried-and-true strategy of not wishing to alienate a potential ally by picking the opponent of the winner when the differences between the two are not stark – about which Jindal has perhaps learned the hard way.

Thus, the differences are instructive.

13.9.11

Reformers seek to complete BESE job of 4 years ago

After qualification for the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s fall elections settled, it has become clear that momentum generated four years ago by one side has continued to grow, while the other only now has recognized and responded to the threat to its power and privilege by this development.

Prior to four years ago, BESE had hunkered down to a business-as-usual approach in education policy-making, after the previous decade when significant advances had been made in the areas of school accountability and some raising of standards and expectations. About the only significant change along those lines had been, courtesy of the disruption wrought by Hurricane Katrina, large numbers of charter schools getting a foothold in Orleans Parish where the local school board, whose schools had been among the worst in the nation, had control of most schools taken by the state’s Recovery School District.

But besides that historical accident, on BESE there was a lack of enthusiasm for meaningful efforts to improve education statewide beyond where it was.

12.9.11

Changing LA political culture explains Democrat decline

With qualifying for fall state elections (never mind what the actual results might be) demonstrating an increasingly surging Republican Party while Democrats seem in a recession of growing permanence, speculation arises over why this has occurred and why now. Understanding the intersection of political culture and institutions explains.

Offering the idea that a decline in unionization of the state’s workforce contributed in reality confuses symptom with disease. The concept of a union, simply, is a device employed by a collective of individuals to expropriate resources from shareholders (in the private sector; taxpayers in the public), based on the idea that it is legitimate to transfer from a target group to a preferred group by use of coercive power based on numbers of individuals.

That same idea lies behind what once was bedrock of Louisiana’s political culture, populism.

11.9.11

Term limits successful on accountability, thus policy

As Louisiana voters face a second cycle of legislative elections impacted by term limitation, one former candidate for its House of Representatives laments the belief that its imposition has meant nothing in terms of public policy. That hasty judgment neither appreciates the effort to get there nor what has happened since.

Ryan Gatti terms his anticipation of their imposition as creating an environment where “no one person could garner too much power and to ensure new blood and new ideas would be just over a decade away. This was going to transform the Legislature because there would be no more 20- to 30-year dynasties, and special interests would lose their stranglehold on the capital.” Yet, he writes it “was just a sham. The law technically allows one person to serve for up to 24 years,” and that “our 1995 uprising was really just a ploy to get us to vote.”

Actually, Gatti is incorrect on the constitutional amendment’s specifics.