Parent Sara Wood sent a questionnaire regarding education issues to both candidates for Louisiana Governor facing a runoff November 12. This is my response to the document provided by David Vitter:
Vitter's responses to parent questions show his intent to privatize public education http://bit.ly/1l6lGJE , his lack of understanding of our current letter grade system and its dependence on high stakes testing, his lack of understanding of the process of teaching and learning, and his strong support for some of the Obama Administration's most egregious policies for public education.
How does Vitter intend NOT to increase taxes to pay for vouchers which are funded outside the constitutionally protected MFP formula for public schools? Oh, well, they aren't called taxes and the idea is perfumed up by tax credits (much like the higher education tax credit scam of Sen. Donahue that was supposed to give the public the false notion that they weren't being conned).Right now taxpayers are contributing $45,000,000 a year to provide vouchers for a limited number of children whose identities are kept secret even from school officials. Additionally, some of your local public education tax dollars are being diverted from their locally dedicated purposes like school construction by withholding it from districts. And I am sure that few if any of you know of the BESE approved grants to 3 Archdiocese which give them money to "build capacity" for more voucher students. In other words, BESE at the recommendation of White gave the Catholic schools money that can be used for building classrooms to accommodate more voucher students when no school district receives any construction funding whatsoever from state education dollars. Vitter would undoubtedly support that diversion of public education dollars to Catholic schools in order to promote his position on vouchers.Voucher children are eligible even if they are "A" students as long as they are enrolled in "C", "D" or "F" schools. While the LDOE would say their privacy is being guarded, the real reason (since we know LDOE cares little about student data privacy after sharing every student's Social Security number with inBloom two years ago) the real reason is to prevent the public from knowing the status of these students and their former schools.The LDOE determination to hide this from the public was evidenced in their fight with the U.S. Justice Dept. who requested this data in keeping with their mandate to ensure civil rights regs. LDOE (with the help of the media) portrayed this as the Justice Dept. trying to prevent vouchers. The actual court documents will show that was not true.Besides which, we know that Vitter's position on privatization (choice sounds better) fully supports the Obama Administration's position. Vitter also supports Obama's teacher accountability scheme using predicted student progress using high stakes tests. Now if you support accountability through testing and you support the teacher accountability system using student standardized test scores then you support HIGH STAKES testing.If you asked Vitter to explain what he calls a simple letter grade system he couldn't do it. Could you? And even if you could, it changes annually. But of course the justification of the letter grades is that parents understand letter grades. Parents you are being hoodwinked!Vitter derides John Bel Edwards claiming that Edwards said, "There is no communist conspiracy (CCSS). This isn't some federal takeover of education." Vitter says, "I completely disagree!" So using my CCSS close reading, I interpret Vitter to mean 1.) He believes it is a communist conspiracy and 2) There is no intent by the federal government (via USeD) to take over our system of public education. (with its democratic foundation and locally elected school boards.)Wake up Sen. Vitter. This is an elitist market based reform movement well funded by the lobbyists with deep pockets and the same philanthropists that bought our BESE elections this month. The same kinds of deep pockets to whom you can attribute your political position. The same who are funding your campaign for governor and the same to whom you must answer if you are elected. The same who are funding the Obama Administration education machine formerly led by Sec. Arne Duncan who also knows nothing about education.Nobody has asked you, Sen. Vitter, your position on Teach for America and the lack of certification requirements for charter teachers in this state. Are you also allied there with the Obama Administration and our own former Senator Mary Landrieu both of whom owe obeisance and campaign donations to that wealthy non-profit? You will most certainly need to if you plan to staff your charter schools expansion as they opt for lower paid instructors not attached to unions and to whom they don't worry about increasing salaries for experience from year to year as the majority are temporaries looking to pay off their high priced college tuitions and some focused on that career path that mostly includes working for nonprofits and other faux education edupreneurial aspirations. That also eliminates the need for retirement benefits. We know how you feel about retirement benefits since you claim you refused yours as U.S. Senator. By the way, will you refuse that as Governor? Well you won't really need it anyway as you don't know what being a member of the working class means. It's messy.And that "Obamacare" thing. Well, you have just misrepresented Edwards' explanation of the destruction to higher Ed that refusing to use our own tax money has caused in this state. Maybe you and Edwards will have an opportunity to clarify that in your next debate and I mean a debate on that specific aspect of Obamacare not on the AHCA itself which this state has not accepted. My interest and expertise is in education anyway, I don't claim to be an expert on all issues like you do. I'm not running for Governor.You didn't answer one of the more important and revealing questions Sara asked and truthfully I did not expect you or Edwards to do that. The question of whom you would appoint as your three BESE representatives. No candidate would answer that before being elected for a number of understandable reasons. But you did answer who you would NOT appoint and even the kind of person you would NOT appoint.There is a lot of expectation out there as to who would be appointed and, full disclosure, I am on one of those proposed lists. I hope the public can see from your answers to these questions and from their knowledge and understanding of the LOUISIANA education battle that has been going on for some years now while you have been up in Washington and your kids have been enrolled in private schools that you won't be appointing any K-12 educator who has participated fully in support of public education in this state for the last 22 years. You won't be appointing a voice for parent and educator concerns because you have a very narrowly defined agenda to promote yourself -privatization.Nobody who has been watching believes for one minute that you or any of the other privatizers envision a collaborative model of charters with their unelected school boards along with the remaining public schools. Nobody who has been watching believes that you will call for a full audit of all charters and the RSD and LDOE because that would run the (proven) risk of exposing the too often (admittedly not wholesale) fraudulent allocation of taxpayer dollars and wasteful drain of Louisiana tax dollars to out of state charter management companies and phony education contracts to favored recipients. Nobody who has been watching believes that you will support the appointment of a state superintendent who will pledge to support our constitutional mandate to provide a system of public schools and to look to real educators to be given the power to institute and support measures to improve public education for every single child who so chooses. Our current BESE has made it clear that they support privatization so you will have an easy time of it when you appoint three more.And there is one thing for darn sure. Your appointment would not include me because I am looking to give a voice to parents and educators and I am looking to expend Louisiana tax dollars on education for our children using researched based best practices. I want every school, whether charter or traditional to be required to and assisted in hiring qualified certified educators in every school and for those educators to be provided with the support and mentorship they need to continually improve. I want to end what amounts to the continued desegregation of our schools by those schools that use phony academic requirements, secret lotteries and refusal to allow neighborhood schools for those who want it. I want to end the use of a single standardized test for high stakes purposes. I want to end the wasteful spending, fraud and malfeasance taking place now through LDOE and RSD and the majority BESE.I'm not voting for you Mr. Vitter because the issue closest to my heart and one of the most important issues facing our nation today is the education of our children. You fail the test on that issue.