A truth out primer for Louisiana state legislators who can't tell a lie when they hear one!
Dear Louisiana Senators/Representatives:
I just finished reading Reign of Error:The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools.
I can't think of a better cheat sheet for reference this next legislative session when you are expected to slog through hours of reform rhetoric from the likes of Superintendent John White's silver tongued young Teach for America graduates come education policymakers.
Just in case you are looking to redeem yourselves leading up to the next year's election cycle, and in the waning months of our not-soon-enough -to-be-former-Governor Bobby Jindal's own two term "reign of error," Dr. Ravitch offers this primer to justify your telling him that your constituents are mad as hell and you can't take it anymore if you expect to be re-elected.
Ravitch, former U.S. assistant secretary of education, currently research professor of education at New York University and author of several acclaimed books on education and policy, has outlined in chapter format a virtual come back response (retort) for every bogus statistic and silver bullet solution these enemies of the status quo will try to sell you.
Can't tell the good guys from the bad guys? Chapters 2 and 3 suggest an easy follow-the-money approach to unveil the what's what and the who's who of privatization in case you haven't already identified the corporate reformers who may already be bulking up your war chest for future elections.
Chapters 5 through 12 debunk some of the myths you hear constantly that have contributed to the culture of failure created to add a "sense of urgency" to the reform scheme.
Chapters 13 through 20 explain how some of the legislation you may have previously supported were presented to you under false pretense and resulted in several court rulings against you. For instance Chapters 11 through 14 explain the fallacy of measuring the effectiveness of teachers based on test scores, why merit pay fails, and the difference training and experience of highly qualified career teachers can make that the fresh young Teach for America enthusiasm just can't match.
Chapter 16 explains the contradictions of charters, a phenomenon you are painfully aware of with the proliferation of charters rapidly reaching beyond the still failing New Orleans and Baton Rouge Recovery School Districts. Chapter 17, Trouble in E-Land, carries a warning about virtual schools and the replacement of teachers so as to prepare our human capital (students) for college and the workforce with brainless, insensitive technology. And it's called personalized learning.
Chapter 18, Parent Trigger - recent legislation that has yet to be acted upon because no parent finds a need for it. Chapter 19, The Failure of Vouchers -the cost and humiliation of that Louisiana Supreme Court ruling must still be on your conscience. Chapter 20, Schools Don't Improve When They Are Closed - a proof you have seen over and over again with our charter turnarounds.
The rest of the book, Chapters 21-33, are dedicated to solutions. You asked for them. You got them repeatedly. But Dr. Ravitch offers yet one more perspective and I expect that some of you are ready to listen.