90-DAY COMMENT PERIOD FOR VOUCHER ACCOUNTABILITY PROPOSAL

Tuesday’s vote sets in motion a 90-day comment period during which the public may suggest changes in the policy to BESE. After that period, the rules will become part of a department policy bulletin. People who wish to suggest changes can contact BESE at 225-342-5840.


This post by the Louisiana Federation of Teachers reveals a fact that completely passed my sphere of awareness at BESE's meeting during which they approved John White's new "accountability" proposal for voucher schools. Certainly proper procedure and process for BESE is often muddled and manipulated and this provision was pretty well kept under wraps. The proposal is only three pages long and we are all capable of presenting our viable suggestions that would make it a true accountability document. I hope everyone will take the opportunity to offer their "two bits." Here is the link to the press release which has a link to the document imbedded in it. There is no direct link to the document posted on the LDOE web site at this time:

http://www.louisianaschools.net/offices/publicaffairs/press_release.aspx?PR=1662




Voucher accountability a sham, LFT says

(Baton Rouge – July 24, 2012) Rules approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to impose accountability on the new statewide school voucher program are little more than a sham, spokesmen for the Louisiana Federation of Teachers said today.

“The standards ensure that parents will be given two different measuring sticks, one for private schools and one for public schools,” said LFT Legislative Director Mary-Patricia Wray.

Rather than empowering parents to make informed choices about their children’s education, Wray said, “It ensures that they will have no such means with which to act on behalf of their children.”

Coming just one day after the public got its first glimpse of the proposed rules for voucher schools, BESE’s vote gave the nod to a plan that will initially apply to just about 30 of the 125 private and religious schools which will accept public funds as tuition for students who leave some public schools.

While public schools are assigned letter grades from A to F based on statistics kept by the state, there will be no similar grading system for private and religious schools.

And while public school students are required to pass high-stakes tests to pass to the next grade, there will be no similar requirement for voucher schools.

Voucher students in grades three through 11 will be required to take the same standardized tests as public school students. Test scores for schools with more than 10 students per grade, or more than 40 students in all tested grades, will not be released.

Voucher schools that fail to meet achievement expectations on what is called a Scholarship Cohort Index can be penalized. However, the rules give State Superintendent of Education John White broad authority to waive all of the requirements.

LFT President Steve Monaghan took BESE to task for the way in which the voucher rules were approved.

BESE’s action mimicked the way the state legislature passed education bills without regard for proper procedures or for public opinion, Monaghan said.

“That flawed pattern of process continued as BESE adopted its so-called rules for voucher accountability,” Monaghan said.

The board kept its proposal secret from critics of vouchers until yesterday, Monaghan said. But a press release from the Department of Education revealed that voucher backers had plenty of time to analyze the proposal and issue statements of support before the public saw the new rules.

At Tuesday’s meeting, members of the public were given just three minutes each to offer critiques of the new rules.

“I fully understand the idea behind a three-minute egg,” Monaghan said, “but I don’t like the concept of a three-minute democracy.”

Tuesday’s vote sets in motion a 90-day comment period during which the public may suggest changes in the policy to BESE. After that period, the rules will become part of a department policy bulletin. People who wish to suggest changes can contact BESE at 225-342-5840.

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