Steve Monaghan, president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 7:20 PM
One might almost understand why Steve Monaghan senses an attack. Almost.
The president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, speaking at the organization’s annual meeting last week, cited Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education agenda in 2012, through which the governor used the weight of his high office to stack the deck in favor of his version of school reform. Among specific legislation promoted by the governor and passed by the Legislature, Monaghan referenced as harmful to teachers Act 1, which essentially gutted teacher tenure, and Act 2, which expanded state support for school vouchers statewide.
“We are definitely under attack,” Monaghan said. Maybe.
In fact, Act 1 was a deadly blow, likely unfair. Teacher tenure provided job security to Louisiana public school teachers. Act 1 set the bar for attaining tenure at a height that’s virtually unreachable. Teachers also contend the act makes it easier to be fired unfairly.
Act 2 provided parents of students enrolled in failing schools around the state the opportunity to choose to go to private schools at state expense. More than 5,000 students are attending private schools this year on the state-paid “scholarships,” a code word for vouchers. The number includes Calcasieu Parish students.
The Federation is pressing court action against both efforts. Hearings are set for today on Act 2, Dec. 17 on Act 1.
But where Monaghan senses an attack, the public might sense something altogether different. The public might sense a free government in action.
After all, the governor has been elected twice without serious competition, touting school reform. He used his influence and campaign largesse to help elect lawmakers and members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education who share his views. Acts 1 and 2, passed by elected legislators, drew support from both political sides of the aisle. If Monaghan sees all of that as an attack on teachers, well, it has not been a stealthy attack.
There’s another way to interpret the state’s efforts. Jindal and his supporters have noted that more than two of every five high schools in the state are rated as “D” or “F” schools. That means they are failing or nearly failing, often in impoverished neighborhoods. Jindal says he wants vouchers so parents of those children in failing schools can choose better alternatives. Parents with vouchers see them as an opportunity. The public wants change, and Jindal seems to be leading that change.
Teachers should be part of the reform effort. Teachers have accomplished much on behalf of many Louisiana students. They should be heard.
But to be heard, they must be part of the conversation. They must offer alternatives of their own. Their Federation must be willing to offer something other than “no.”
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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.
Posted By: Stuart On: 11/30/2012
Title: Welcome to the real thing teachers...
I like teachers, I'm married to one. Teaches several classes including PE where there are kids who didn't participate in athletics and are stuck in there. She comes home and works her butt off trying to figure out how to teach and encourage her students to participate, get better as well as have side conversations trying to encourage students telling them they can be better than what they forsee themselves being. As a teacher SHE DOESN"T GET TENURE! She gets so pissed that crap teachers who don't care if kids pass or fail and continue to keep their jobs.
As she agrees with me, eliminate tenure! What other job in this country has that?? It would be nice if that were the case for me in my job but I guess it is what teacher unions hate....performance based. Like that is a alien concept??!!