Are Teachers Being Paid, Correctly?

In a state that continues to rank in the lower 1/3 for teacher salaries, it is sometimes comical to me to see the extent to which disdain is displayed when legislation is introduced related to the compensation of teachers. In the 2016 Regular Session, a bill was introduced by House Education Committee Chair, Nancy Landry, on behalf of a school board member in her district. The bill was intended to address a special situation where some teachers were employed on 9 month contracts, and accepted positions in a unique school that operated year around. They were compensated for the addition Read More …

Are Teachers Evaluated, Correctly?

In the regular session of 2012, the Louisiana Legislature passed and enacted HB-974, also known as Act 1. Gov. Bobby Jindal signed it into law. The bill made dramatic changes to teacher tenure, evaluation, and compensation, and also limited powers of local school boards while giving superintendents more autonomy. The bill was challenged in court because it encompassed too many statutes. While portions of the bill were stricken, the bill remains in effect. Since being enacted, a couple of amendments have been made. I won’t go into all of the details of the bill. Instead, I’ll simplify the evaluation and Read More …

Raising Expectations vs Raising the Bar

Although he probably thinks otherwise, I still hold a great deal of respect for a former administrator who once said, “If you want me to play the game, tell me the rules. And don’t change them in the middle of the game.” He was referring to school accountability and the importance of understanding how numbers affect your score. This is a concept that I wholeheartedly agree with; however, this is probably where our philosophies part ways. Some would do this faithfully and blindly with no regard for whether the measurement is fair or accurate. As a professional educator, and a Read More …

Ed Reform’s Double-Edged Sword

It hasn’t always been, but for the last decade or so, the education reform movement has been a double-edged sword that slices through the heart of traditional public education. On one side of the sword, we find the Republican efforts to reform public education that is built upon and driven by the their ideological adherence to conservatism. Residing on the other side of the sword, the Democrat approach to education reform supported by America’s long history of civil rights discrimination and the need to provide equitable opportunities to children of color, children living in poverty, and other populations trapped in Read More …

We Are Not A Small Group Of People

Let’s face it. Politics reside in our classrooms whether we like it, or not. In the Spring of 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). If I had to pinpoint when politics entered the classroom, I’d say it was the moment Johnson laid down that pen. Though largely ignored by people who aren’t educators, political influence over the classroom has increased steadily with the passage of each major piece of education legislation, including No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). From the moment John White was appointed Read More …

Louisiana’s Educational Facade

On June 26th, The Advocate published its article, State Plan to Revamp Public Schools Wins Compliments from Two Groups, giving praise to Louisiana’s new ESSA plan which was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education on May 3, 2017. The State’s plan has received accolades from national groups for its “ambitious goals” to improve public education in Louisiana. The two groups mentioned in this particular article are the Collaborative for Student Success (CFSS) and Bellwether Education Partners (BEP). I was not at all surprised to see these organizations offering their credibility to support Louisiana’s ESSA plan; nor, was I impressed. These organizations Read More …

Student Discrimination Resolution Pulled

You may remember that two weeks ago, Rep. Vincent Pierre voluntarily deferred HB-536 in the House education committee in lieu of a resolution to address the issue of student discrimination as it relates to student who have opted out of state assessment. It took a little longer than expected, but with the help of Scott Richard, Executive Director of the Louisiana School Boards Association, we managed to produce a resolution that would encourage school governing authorities to develop policies related to state assessments that foster positive relationships with the communities they serve. In addition, it encouraged the Board of Elementary Read More …

Superintendent Vacancy Becomes a Matter of Law

Over the last couple of months, I have been in constant contact with both the governor’s office and the senate in regards to the appointment of Superintendent of Education, John White. There is a general agreement that appointive positions are intended to be temporary extensions of the current administration. It isn’t uncommon for someone to be reappointed by an incoming administration; however, in White’s case, that has not been done. Some of the senate staff attorneys have differing opinions about how and when appointments should terminate. In order to resolve the matter, we have solicited the courts for clarity. On Read More …

Dolby Elementary Set To Lose Its Greatest Asset

As parents are attending end of the year award ceremonies, and teachers are saying their good-byes to students, there’s a sadness that lies just below the surface of the end-of-the-year excitement. The faculty, staff, students and parents of Dolby Elementary are losing who I believe is the school’s greatest asset. Nine years ago, when by son entered Pre-K, Missy Bushnell was the assistant principal of Dolby Elementary. The following year, or perhaps the year after, the principal retired and moved on to become the principal of the first charter school in the Lake Charles area, and Bushnell was selected to Read More …

HB-536: Who really puts children first?

On May 18, 2017, several bills I have been involved with were heard in the House Education Committee. One particular bill, HB-536, has been my personal labor of love for more than seven months. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Vincent Pierre, was intended to protect students from discrimination and punishment when their parent makes a decision to exclude them from state assessments. I began drafting the bill in late August 2016 after realizing that I had amassed a significant number of complaints from parents across the state detailing their experiences with their school districts when they attempted to opt-out their children Read More …