Senator Landrieu vs. Public Education?

"Mary Landrieu walks tightrope on Bobby Jindal's education plans"


My comment to the article linked above on NOLA.com:

Senator Landrieu does NOT represent, dare I say a majority, of Democrats on education issues. Her support of U.S.Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's destructive and intrusive education initiatives are just another example of POLITICS over PRINCIPLE that is so pervasive and destructive now. It is hoped that Obama will CAN Duncan when he realizes that the privatization of public schools that is the aim of his reform agenda is dissolving a HUGE base of support that he previously enjoyed.

When I last visited Senator Landrieu's offices in Washington in August of 2011, she was, of course, not available to the thousands of educators who descended on Washington for the express purpose of interjecting their professional expertise in this REFORM ruckus.

Thousands of educators attended two conferences taking place at the same time - the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards  annual conference, of which I am a member and for whom I have lobbied for ongoing congressional support, and the first gathering of the Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action coalition of education professionals, parents and other public education stakeholders. Instead, we had the ear, but not the heart, of her chief education assistant - one of FOUR Teach For America grads she employs. When you surround yourself with propaganda you will absorb it.

When I had the opportunity to speak with Sen. Landrieu here in Louisiana a few months ago I offered that she possibly didn't realize the push back against Governor Jindal's "reforms" that highly qualified education professionals [like those represented by the Coalition for Louisiana Public Education (on Facebook)] presented. Her response was "Oh, yeah I really SHOULD get down here more and involved in that." Instead she has put herself in a position that makes her out to be a hypocrite. At that luncheon meeting sponsored by Louisiana Progress , she bashed Governor Jindal for his rejection of a federal pre-K grant. Ironically (or NOT) the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools was holding their conference in the same hotel at the same time.

Landrieu is an outspoken champion of charters and yet she was given a "Friend of Education Award" by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards during that 2010 national conference I referenced. That organization is nationally recognized for identifying effective teachers - far from the standards offered by Teach for America personnel. I understand that NBPTS is a champion of teacher quality and not politically aligned, but as teachers continued to be maligned and the importance of authentic professional certification and experience is discounted by "reformists," it becomes more and more incongruous that a strong association with charter supporters can continue to exist. Charters are notorious for hiring Teach for America college grads who are insufficiently trained, lack any experience, and are generally seen as temporary hires as they pad their resumes and reduce their student debt.

Now Governor Jindal's proposed teacher evaluation system (Act 54) discounts national board certification even though the program has been supported by the LDOE through its quality educator development program for years. Former Superintendent Pastorek removed supplemental pay for NBCTs a few years ago while purporting that his new teacher evaluation program should identify the highest performing teachers and REWARD them with pay increases.

Control seems to be part of the problem here. And Bobby Jindal is a control freak.

It is believed that Governor Jindal has his eyes on Senator Landrieu's job in 2016 as he bides his time on the way to the White House. If Senator Landrieu loses a large part of her voting constituency (educators are both Democratic and Republican) on account of her wishy washy stance on public education, she won't have a prayer up against his millions in campaign funds.

Public Education is a Louisiana Constitutional mandate. It should not be a political issue. Leave it to politicians to make it one.

It's never too late, Mary, open your eyes. At least give us your ear!!!

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