Wednesday, December 5, 2012

SIGN THE LAE KIDS NOT CUTS PETITION

President Obama and members of Congress are engaged in intense debates that will have a direct impact on students, educators, and public education for decades to come. If Congress votes for proposed, massive across-the-board cuts, schools across the nation will face a $5 billion funding cut, meaning more kids packed into overcrowded classrooms, fewer services for special education students, and four-year-olds cheated out of early childhood education. LAE leaders are calling on you to take a stand. Click the following link to sign a petition urging Congress to support public education and working families.

http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Sign-the--KIDS-NOT-CUTS--Petition-Today-.html?soid=1107521351245&aid=ZKblWLOc5Fc

Monday, December 3, 2012

Judge Rules Louisiana School Voucher Program Unconstitutional



Ruling Confirms State's New Voucher Law Violates Louisiana Constitution By Funding
Non-Public Schools With MFP Dollars

19th Judicial District Court Judge Timothy Kelley ruled in favor of public education Friday, when he ruled that it is unconstitutional to fund non-public schools through the state’s school funding formula — the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP). Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) President Joyce Haynes said Friday’s decision was a significant victory in defending the right of every child in Louisiana to attend a quality public school.


“We need to adequately fund the institutions where the majority of our students learn,” she said. “And a majority of Louisiana’s students learn in public school classrooms.”


The lawsuit, sponsored by the LAE and other public school teacher and education groups, sought judicial declaration that Act 2 and Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 99 of the 2012 Legislative Session were unconstitutional because they directed the use of the state’s public school financing formula to pay for tuition for some students to attend private and parochial schools. The three-day trial consisted of attorneys dissecting the MFP, and comparing the language of ACT 2 and SCR 99 to that of the Louisiana Constitution. The proceedings focused on voucher dollars and the impact diverting them would have on the state’s public education system. Haynes said it’s important for people to know the facts about school vouchers.


“Proponents tout the voucher program as a means of reducing education costs, but they actually increase costs,” she said. “This program would have required Louisiana taxpayers to fund two school systems — one public and one private — draining away precious resources from our public school classrooms. Our students, teachers, and taxpayers deserve better.”


An issue LAE Attorney Brian Blackwell said violated the specific directions of Louisiana voters.


“Voters approved taxing themselves to better the public schools in their home parishes,” he said. “No voter was ever asked to approve public funding of non-public schools.”


Another discussion during the trial focused on the lack of accountability measures imposed on voucher schools accepting public funds.


“Private schools have almost complete autonomy with regard to how they operate: who they teach, what they teach, how they teach, how — if at all — they measure student achievement, how they manage their finances, and what they are required to disclose to parents and the public,” Haynes said. “Louisiana citizens deserve to know how their tax dollars are spent.”


Questions now arise about the future of the voucher program. Haynes said no matter what happens, students who enter Louisiana public schools will have qualified, caring teachers to receive them.


During the 2012 Legislative Session, LAE, LFT, and LSBA, along with a number of legislators, tried to point out the constitutional issues surrounding the use of the MFP as the funding mechanism for the voucher program, but the administration ignored their pleas.


“As an organization, we have indicated that teachers need stronger professional development opportunities, smaller class sizes, and appropriate evaluation and critique,” said LAE Executive Director Dr. Michael Walker-Jones. “Governor Jindal and Superintendent John White continue to ignore the professionals and make decisions without even looking at our perspective. They believe that the only answer is to divert funds away from inadequately-resourced classrooms and use standardized test scores to denigrate our schools and teachers. The biggest issue is their glorification of the phrase “school choice,” which does not accurately describe the voucher program.”


President Haynes pointed out that unlike public schools, private schools can discriminate in admissions on the basis of prior academic achievement, standardized test scores, interviews with applicants and parents, gender, religion, income, special needs, and behavioral history.


“As advocates for public education, it is our job to make sure that our public schools are adequately funded so that the educational experience is optimal for all of Louisiana’s children. This is their constitutional right,” she said.


Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White said the state will appeal the ruling. Haynes said it is her sincerest hope that all parties involved will now turn their attention to improving Louisiana public school classrooms.


“We need to invest in proven school improvement strategies like smaller class sizes, certified teachers, and up-to-date textbooks and technology,” she said. “We owe this to the future of this state.”

Monday, October 15, 2012

The LAE Brings Attention to Louisiana’s Upside-Down Tax Policies Through Tax Policy & Corporate Loopholes Symposium

Association Leaders & Tax Policy Experts to Gather on October 27th to Discuss the Impact of Louisiana’s Corporate Tax Loopholes on Statewide Funding Systems

WHAT: Propelled by upside-down tax policies, the gap in Louisiana’s budget continues to grow, hurting neighborhood schools, students, and communities. The LAE will bring attention to this startling issue through a tax policy and corporate loophole symposium on October 27th.

WHO: The Louisiana Association of Educators

WHERE: Drury Inn & Suites - 7939 Essen Park, Baton Rouge, LA

WHEN: Saturday, October 27th, 2012 @ 10 a.m.

WHY: Taxpayers and education stakeholders in Louisiana must demand that the state end unnecessary corporate tax exemptions and loopholes, and add more accountability and transparency in order to establish an equitable and efficient tax system for our state. This will lead to stronger schools and communities, but most importantly, a better Louisiana.

CONTACT: For more information, please contact Ashley Davis at ashley.davis@lae.org or (225) 343-9243 ext. 119.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

HURRICANE ISAAC RECOVERY



Courtesy Nola.com

To all who were—and continue to be—affected by Hurricane Isaac, please know that our hearts are with you. 

We know that LaFourche and St. John parishes were hit hard and their schools remain closed. Thank you for staying strong and setting an example for all of us during these trying times. The LAE team is working on a plan to help our local affiliates recover from this devastating storm; we’ll keep you posted on specifics as they become available. Be sure to keep an eye on www.lae.org for updates regarding this matter.

In the meantime, we wanted to pass along a few resources for discussions surrounding this natural disaster. Go to www.lae.org to check out The NEA School Crisis Guide and other important resources for caregivers, parents, and teachers.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

National Education Expert Diane Ravitch Features LAE Member Letter!

Sending a big CONGRATS to Elizabeth Walters For Scoring National Recognition on Diane Ravitch's Blog!

http://dianeravitch.net/2012/08/18/in-louisiana-private-schools-can-get-an-f-and-public/

See the full post below...
August 18, 2012

In Louisiana, Private Schools Can Get an F and Public $$$


Academically Unacceptable? Not If It’s A Private School.

Nobody wants a doctor who scored an F in medical school. Nobody wants a plumber who scored an F in training courses.

Conventional wisdom holds that nobody wants her kid to attend a school that scores an F.

But what about a private school that scores an F? According to the state of Louisiana, private schools that score an F are A-OK.

If there was any question of whether Louisiana’s much-publicized school voucher program is an effort by State Superintendent John White and the rest of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration to overtly favor private schools over public schools, the recently released “accountability” requirements for private schools in the voucher program should clear up any doubts. The requirements trumpet “a common standard for student performance across the system of traditional public, charter public, and nonpublic schools,” yet the standards for private schools receiving vouchers are far lower than those for public schools–so low that public schools meeting those standards are considered failures.

Louisiana evaluates its public schools using a 150-point scale, which is then converted into letter grades of A, B, C, D and F, based on students’ scores on standardized tests, as well as measures such as attendance and graduation rates. If a public school scores below a B on the accountability index, students from that school whose household income does not exceed 250 percent of poverty level can apply for vouchers.

Despite White’s own assertions about the importance of accountability to the voucher program, he has chosen not to hold voucher schools to the same standards. Private schools receiving vouchers will be able to continue receiving tax money previously earmarked for public schools–more than $8,000 per pupil–while scoring in the F range.

Yes, that’s right, an F. Private schools can score an F and continue receiving public funding.

Specifically, private schools receiving vouchers, whose voucher students will take the same standardized tests as public-school students, will be required to score only a 50on the scholarship cohort index–which the documentation states will be “substantially similar” to the public-school scoring matrix–in order to be eligible to receive more voucher students, and the money that comes with them. Judging by the public-school matrix, such a score places a school squarely in the F category. In fact, with just 60 schools out of 650 in Louisiana scoring below a 51 in the most recent round of grading, such a score would place a school in the ninth percentile of all tested schools. A similar score in a public school would lead the state to deem that school academically unacceptable and would render its students eligible for vouchers.

Given the emphasis that Louisiana officials place on test scores as incontrovertible measures of school (and teacher) quality, it is fair to ask under what logic one ninth-percentile school is considered superior to another ninth-percentile school, simply because one is private and the other public. That question is unlikely to be answered anytime soon, as is the question of how schools were chosen to receive vouchers in the first place; White and the Jindal administration have refused to release the records of the voucher-program deliberations.

Indeed, many people are beginning to wonder whether the state used any criteria at all, as stories of legal troubles, schools without teachers and self-proclaimed prophetsemerge among the institutions chosen to receive vouchers, to say nothing of the overtly religious agendas of the program’s legislative supporters or the disturbing claims found in textbooks used by some voucher schools.

White has previously proven sensitive to bad press over vouchers, but apparently he is not sensitive enough to the state’s citizens to give them the clarification they deserve. He did announce earlier this week that the state would be tightening the rules for voucher applicants because, according to the Times-Picayune, “this process now has greater importance.” White apparently did not elaborate on why he did not find the process greatly important to begin with.

Besides demonstrating the state’s prioritization of funding private schools over funding public ones–a prioritization that may be unconstitutional–Louisiana’s differing standards for public and private schools raise another interesting question: What do test scores really mean, and what do they really mean to policymakers? The “school accountability” and “school reform” movements–both of which have gained significant ground in Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina seven years ago–take for granted the fact that standardized tests are the best way to measure learning and to hold schools accountable. Louisiana’s low test-score standards for private schools, however, trumpeted concurrently with calls for improved education, complicate the narrative. Could White, Jindal and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education possibly believe that factors other than test scores can be indicators of student learning? Or do they believe that private schools are just inherently better, no matter what the test scores say?

One thing’s for sure–when it comes to evaluating White’s own accountability, Louisiana’s leaders are apparently not that eager to find out whether the superintendent scores an A, a B, a C, a D or an F. The state just postponed his first performance review.

Elizabeth Walters teaches in southeast Louisiana.

Friday, August 17, 2012

LAE Moves Forward With Legal Challenge

*On June 22nd, 2012, leaders from LAE affiliates across the state gathered in Baton Rouge to file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Act 2 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 99 of the Louisiana Legislature's 2012 Regular Session. On July 12th, Baton Rouge judge Tim Kelley ruled that he did not have jurisdiction to grant LAE an injunction which requested a delay in funding for the two new, Jindal-backed education laws. LAE attorneys asked the Louisiana Supreme Court to review this decision. On Wednesday, August 15th, LAE attorneys were notified that they were once again denied their request for an injunction. The following news release was distributed to Louisiana media outlets on Thursday, August 16th, in response to this decision.

LAE Moves Forward With Legal Challenge

Ruling Only Denies Request For Spending Halt
Constitutionality of Education Laws Still In Question

BATON ROUGE, LA – August 16, 2012 – LAE say they will move forward with a lawsuit seeking a declaration that Act 2 and Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 99 are unconstitutional, despite the Louisiana Supreme Court’s denial of a request to put voucher spending on hold pending the outcome of a decision on the constitutionality of the laws.


“The courts only denied our request for a spending halt; the merits of the case have not yet been determined,” said LAE President Joyce Haynes. “The constitutionality of these laws is still very much in question. Until a final decision is made on the merits, we will continue our appeal to the courts. We stand behind our commitment to make sure that every child in Louisiana has access to a quality public school education.”


On July 12th, Baton Rouge judge Tim Kelley ruled that he did not have jurisdiction to grant the injunctive relief requesting a delay in funding for two new, Jindal-backed education laws. LAE attorneys requested review of that decision.


“Through our request, we were hoping to prevent the recipients of funds from having to pay back the money when the courts hear the case and rule that Act 2 and SCR 99 are unconstitutional,” said LAE Attorney Brian Blackwell. “If Superintendent White and members of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education were so confident in the legality of these laws, they should have agreed to litigate this case quickly, rather than have it go beyond August 1st.”


Blackwell went on to point out that state education officials could have also agreed to delay funding until the issue surrounding the constitutionality of the funding of non-public education under the new laws was resolved. President Haynes said her association's focus remains on protecting the interests of the 99% of Louisiana students whose families chose to keep them in the public schools.


“This is about protecting the constitutional rights of all Louisiana’s school children—not just a select few,” she said. “Our state constitution promises that every child in Louisiana will be provided with an educational setting that will give them the opportunity to develop to their full potential and that’s exactly what we’re trying to protect.”


The trial will proceed on October 15th before Judge Tim Kelley of the 19th Judicial District Court in East Baton Rouge Parish.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

LAE Leaders Leave Annual Summer Leadership Conference Ready to Take on a New School Year!

New Local Presidents, Emerging Leaders, & Other Association Members Spend a Week Learning about How to Become Stronger Advocates for the Education Profession!

July 22nd through 26th was a busy week for LAE as more than 70 association leaders gathered in Marksville for LAE's annual Summer Leadership Conference. The focus of this year's event centered around learning and understanding the new education laws--Acts 1 & 2-- that will be enacted for the 2012-2013 school year. Participants also attended workshops on how to be a stronger advocate for the association, government relations and legislative action, communications, and professional development. The conference culminated with the naming of Sherry Thompson as president of the 2012 Emerging Leaders class.

Here are a few memories from this year's event...

Friday, July 27, 2012

LAE Attorney Sent Letter To Ask Voucher Schools To Hold Off On Using Money Until Legal Challenge Is Finalized

ATTENTION: On July 12th, Baton Rouge judge Tim Kelley ruled that he did not have jurisdiction to grant the injunctive relief requested to delay the funding of the two new, Jindal-backed education laws until a decision was made concerning the constitutionality of those laws.

 
On July 25th, in an effort to advise the schools participating in the voucher program of their potential future obligation to refund monies they may receive, LAE Attorney Brian Blackwell sent a letter to the participants asking them to agree to hold off on spending the money until a final decision was made on the constitutionality of the program. After the letter was received, there was an all out attack on LAE in the press calling the move “disgraceful,” “outrageous,” “shameful,” “sophomoric,” and the list goes on. Click here to see LAE’s response to the attacks.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Have you met LAE's newest staff member?

Welcome to LAE's New Northeastern Region UniServ Director Mrs. Angela Miller!

Angela grew up in Missouri. She has over 18 years of K-12 experience in the states of Missouri and Arizona. She was active in local and state association leadership and committees before becoming a UniServ Director in the Arizona Education Association.

Angela will serve Region 2 in northeastern Louisiana out of the Monroe office. She is excited to be working with the members of LAE...and we're just as excited to have her! For all you Monroe-area members, please note Angela's contact information listed below:

300 Washington Street, Suite #100 A
Monroe, LA 71201
Phone: (318)387-0536
Fax: (318)387-5150


Do you know who your LAE UniServ Director aka member advocate is?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Guess Who Has Been Empowered by the Jindal Education Reform?


A guest blog from our friend Mike Deshotels aka The Louisiana Educator.
 
Governor Jindal and his state superintendent, John White, love to talk about how the Jindal education reforms embodied in Acts 1 and 2 of the 2012 legislative session will “empower” teachers, parents, and administrators. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the approval of this legislation amounts to the greatest stripping of educator power and job security in the history of Louisiana public education. It is also a full-fledged attack on all public schools.
This historic revamping of almost all major components of our K-12 education system was rammed through the legislature at an unprecedented speed. Some critical portions of the legislation received almost no public scrutiny. Many legislators apparently knew little about the ramifications of their votes.

Even though the Governor's plan for pushing through the legislation was designed to catch educators off guard, LAE was able to rally thousands of teachers to the steps of the Louisiana Capitol, and into overflowing committee rooms with only days notice. Teachers wearing red protest shirts flooded the entire bottom floor of the capitol for both the House and Senate committee hearings on House Bills 974 and 976 and Senate versions of the “reform” legislation. Record numbers of red cards were filled out by teachers indicating opposition to the bills in committee and requesting to speak in the committee hearings. Most of those teachers were denied the right to testify as the time for discussion of the bills was limited. Teachers tried desperately to get their legislators to meet with them and hear their professional opinions about the damaging impact of this legislation, but the majority of legislators had already committed their votes to the Governor on this poisonous legislation sight-unseen and were bound and determined to vote for it no matter what teachers wanted. Their decision was purely political and was done only to curry favor with the governor and his allies or to avoid the reprisals that the Governor was quite willing to inflict on all opposition.

Many legislators tried to reassure teachers from their districts that the legislation was only meant to affect the low performing schools and teachers, most of which were to be found outside their districts. Over and over again legislators said they were proud of the public school teachers and schools in their districts and that the legislation would have practically no impact on their teachers and administrators! Nothing could have been further from the truth. Educators who were active members of the LAE knew better because they took the time to read the analysis prepared by their Association and to read the bills for themselves. Nothing about the legislative process or the substance of this legislation had anything to do with teacher empowerment!

Not a shred of evidence was presented by the Governor and his allies to show that these major revisions of education law would improve the education of any students whatsoever. In fact, there was ample evidence to the contrary. The data resulting from the initial steps of privatization of education in Louisiana through the use of charter schools and vouchers show more of a negative impact on education of children than a positive one. All so-called failing schools taken over by the Recovery District keeping the same student body before conversion to charters in Louisiana are now performing at a lower level than before the takeover. The majority of children who had utilized the limited public to private vouchers have performed worse than before transferring to the private schools.

On the issues of teacher employment, evaluation, and reduction in force, not one bit of evidence was presented to the legislature to indicate that the changes in Act 1 would improve instruction and retain the best teachers. The new value-added teacher evaluation system has not yet produced one positive result in all the states where it has been tried, but it has produced many horror stories for teachers and students. My blog at louisianaeduator.blogspot.com contains numerous posts over a two and a half year period to document the failures of charters, vouchers, and value-added efforts. These posts cite actual statistics and studies that demonstrate, over and over, the lack of success of such programs. The truth is there for anyone who is interested in the truth.

But this legislation was not really about trying to improve education; it was about privatization of education, and the stripping of job security and the professional status of all public school teachers. I pointed out in one of my blog posts that Act 1 has reduced the job status of a typical teacher to that of a teenage grocery store clerk. That's the kind of teacher empowerment that has been produced by the Jindal education reform.

In answer to those legislators who assured their local educators that none of this legislation would adversely affect them, I want to point out just a few results of the legislation. Starting this school year, there will be a large number of private schools--some of them operating in our highest performing public school systems--that will be able to draw students from public schools and place them in substandard buildings with no adequate materials for instruction or qualified teachers. So far, the state has done almost nothing to insure that there will be adequate instruction in such schools. Their students can be promoted from one grade to another or even given a diploma without passing any of the LEAP or graduation tests. Also, to the amazement of some legislators who voted for the Jindal reforms, it is quite possible for a Muslim school, or even a school operating as one of the dreaded Medrassas, to demand voucher funding from our taxes as long as they meet the same minimal standards met by the rag tag “Christian” schools that have already been approved!

Act 2 also provides for the approval of new charter school authorizors that will be allowed and encouraged to approve new charter schools in all parishes that can compete directly with all public schools (not just the ones rated as low performers) for students. The law has now dropped all certification requirements for teachers in all so called “public” charter schools. These schools will be allowed to use our tax monies to advertise in the media for the purpose of attracting students and their share of the MFP funding from public schools. Over time the transfer of funding could financially cripple even our higher performing public school systems.

Finally, on the issue of teacher job security; there now is none. The legislation in Act 1 has amended the teacher tenure law to the point that all teachers will now be “at will” employees. They can be fired any time the principal and the local superintendent agree that they want to fire a particular teacher. The so-called tenure hearing will be held before a hearing committee where two of the three members will be appointed by the principal and the superintendent. In the case of layoffs, if a 20-year, tenured teacher has the misfortune of teaching a class where students perform below the expectation predicted by the value-added formulas, that teacher must be the first to be laid off no matter how good his/her evaluations have been for the past 20 years.

All public education employees are very much at risk. If a principal or a superintendent does not produce his/her quota of value-added success over a period of time, he/she must be dismissed. Theoretically, even a principal of a high-performing school is at risk if the students there do not perform according to the value-added formula expectations. Local educators have absolutely no input into the development of the value-added formulas by which they will be judged. Local voters have no say at all in the educator evaluation system.

So let's review: We have parents who can send their children to voucher schools, but they cannot choose the school, and they will never know how much their child is learning using the Louisiana accountability standards. We have teachers who can be fired at-will, or if they have the misfortune of having a class that performs below the expectations set by the state experts. We have principals who can be dismissed because their students do not perform according to value-added expectations, or because they refuse to fire teachers who do not meet value-added expectations. We have superintendents who can have their contracts voided by the state superintendent if they do not meet value-added expectations. And, we have school boards who now cannot make employment decisions for anyone but the local superintendent even though they can be overruled by the state superintendent in that employment decision. We have taxpayers who have absolutely no say in anything having to do with education, and a Governor with no training in education,and a state superintendent with two years teaching experience and questionable certification who rule over it all. Who do you think has been empowered?

The only way educators will be empowered is if they take action now to empower themselves! LAE is a strong, well-run professional education association. Because of the expertise of its leaders and staff, and its affiliation with the National Education Association, it is also a powerful union, but it needs to be made much more powerful if educators are to triumph in this critical battle. If you are already a member, please start recruiting other educators who had not yet joined. If you are not yet a member of LAE-NEA, and you believe in the education profession and public education, please join today and get active in the association as it goes into battle for the children and their teachers.

Sincerely,

Michael Deshotels, retired educator

Monday, July 16, 2012

Be An Activist for Public Education!


An activist is someone who is not satisfied with the status quo; someone who is frustrated or angered by events taking place. An activist is a person who sees injustice in the policies of others and speaks about that dissatisfaction to others. An activist presents information or opinions that can be used to bring about change in an undesirable situation; someone who acts on their own convictions--a brave soul fighting for what they believe is right! Are you an activist for public education?

 
Now, more than ever, we need YOU to be an ACTIVIST for our neighborhood schools! LAE is asking you to make a commitment to help spark action in your school and community. We cannot afford to stand idly by and watch our public schools be destroyed in favor of the governor’s personal political agenda. Do your part and pledge to be an ACTIVIST today!

You don’t need to be an LAE member to join us in this important fight! Below are a few things YOU can do today in order to be an activist for public education.
 
• Contact your legislators to advise them on those issues that stand to negatively impact public school schools and students.

• Thank those legislators who continue to show their support for public education.

• Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper explaining your concern for the impacts of the new education policies.

• Friend LAE on facebook and share any updates on education news.
Do the same on Twitter.

• Coordinate town hall meetings in your community to inform others about the
impacts of Acts 1 & 2.

• OTHER

Please make a commitment to do one--or more--of the above actions and email this commitment to the LAE Communications Department TODAY!

Friday, July 13, 2012

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!

What are Weingarten Rights?

“Weingarten Rights” are union member protection rights that were handed down by the United States Supreme Court. If a union member is called into a meeting with management that could affect personal working conditions or lead to discipline or termination, that union member can request to management that their UniServ Director be present during the meeting. The union member can choose not to participate in such a discussion until their union representative arrives.

THE EMPLOYEE MUST MAKE CLEAR TO ASK FOR UNION REPRESENTATION BEFORE OR DURING THE MEETING.

The employee cannot be punished for making this request. If the employer denies this request and continues to question, it commits an UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE. This is a violation of Federal law and the employee has a right to refuse to answer. The employer may not discipline employees for such a refusal.





Q & A on Act 1 Changes to Teacher Tenure and Compensation


Legislation Passed in 2012 Will DRASTICALLY Change Your Profession

What happened when House Bill 974 was signed into law as ACT 1?

ACT 1 OF 2012 repeals the provisions surrounding tenure, compensation, and teacher evaluation that LAE worked so hard to implement over the years. Below are questions you might have concerning tenure and compensation changes.

TENURE
If I’m a tenured teacher, do I retain tenure under ACT 1?

Yes.

How do I continue to retain tenure under ACT 1?

Receive an evaluation rating that is above “ineffective” on the average of the “value-added” and “observation” portions of your evaluation each year.

How can I lose tenure under ACT 1?

Receive one performance rating of “ineffective.”

If I am rated “ineffective,” when would I lose my tenure rights under ACT 1?

The law states that you lose your tenure rights “immediately.”

What happens when you are rated “ineffective”?

You may be fired immediately. You will be able to grieve your evaluation to the school board. If you win your grievance, you retain your job and your tenure will be reinstated.

What happens next?

Upon loss of tenure, you become an “at-will” employee. You may be fired at any time. If you maintain your job, you can only attain tenure again if you are rated as “highly effective” for five years within a six year period.

Recommendation: Any LAE member who receives an “ineffective” rating needs representation immediately. LAE will challenge each and every “ineffective” rating received by any of its members.

Have the grounds for dismissing a tenured teacher changed?
Yes. In addition to willful neglect of duty, incompetency, dishonesty, and immorality, Act 1 adds another ground for termination of a tenured teacher – “poor performance” – which the Act equates to an “ineffective” evaluation or value-added rating.

As a tenured teacher, do I have a right to a hearing?

Within seven days of dismissal, a teacher may request, and upon request, shall be granted a hearing by a panel composed of a designee of the superintendent, a designee of the principal, and a designee of the teacher. The hearing shall begin seven business days after receipt of the teacher’s request for a hearing. The teacher shall have the right to appear before the hearing panel with witnesses on his or her behalf. The teacher shall have a right to counsel of his or her selection. The panel will submit its recommendation to the superintendent. The superintendent may choose to reinstate, or not, and must notify the teacher in writing of the final determination. The teacher has 60 days to petition the courts to review whether the actions of the superintendent were arbitrary and capricious. The record or review shall be limited to evidence presented to the tenure hearing panel, and the court shall review the matter no later than ten days after the petition has been filed. LAE will represent individual members with tenure who are dismissed and request a hearing.

If I’m a new teacher, how do I obtain tenure?

You attain tenure if rated “highly effective” for five years within a six-year period. Based on the Louisiana Superintendent of Education’s testimony before the House and Senate Education Committees, only ten (10%) percent of all teachers will be rated as “highly effective” each year. The vast majority of teachers (an estimated 80%) are expected to be “emerging” or “proficient” in any given year. It will be virtually impossible for any teacher to attain tenure. A teacher will remain an “at-will” employee without tenure.

I’m a second year teacher and would have attained tenure in the summer of 2013. How do the reforms impact my attainment of tenure?

If a teacher has not attained tenure before September 1, 2012 they are in the same position as a new teacher and must be rated “highly effective” for five years within a six-year period to attain tenure. It will be virtually impossible for any non-tenured teacher as of September 1, 2012 to attain tenure. A teacher will remain an “at-will” employee without tenure.

As a non-tenured teacher, do I have any rights prior to being terminated?

The superintendent (in consultation with your principal) can terminate your employment “at will.”This will be accomplished by providing you with written reasons for termination of your employment and providing you with seven days within which to respond. Your response will be included in your personnel file. You have no further rights.

What does it mean to be an “at-will” employee?

In a situation where an employee is an “at-will” employee, the employer has the right to terminate the employee for a good reason, bad reason or no reason at all.

COMPENSATION

Will I be compensated for work beyond the school day?

No, unless your contract provides for such compensation. Act 1 enacts La. R.S. 17:418(A) (1) to read: “The salaries as provided [in the new salary schedules to be adopted] shall be considered as full compensation for all work required and performed within each employee’s prescribed scope of duties.”

Will I be compensated for attending meetings outside of the school day or Saturday workshops?

No, unless your contract provides for such compensation. If you are required to attend an orientation meeting for a day other than a scheduled work day, you will not receive additional compensation for your time.

Will I continue to receive a stipend for coaching, being a club sponsor, or being a nationally board certified teacher?

No, unless your contract provides for such compensation. Your salary schedule will be considered as full compensation for all of the duties that you are required to perform.

Can my school year be lengthened beyond 180 days?

Yes. You may be required to work more than 180 days and attend meetings outside of the regular work day.

If additional days are added or if I am required to attend meetings outside of the regular work day, will I receive additional pay?

No, unless your contract provides for such compensation. Your work day, or work year, may be increased without any additional compensation. The statutes requiring that you receive additional compensation for these items have been repealed.

What happens when you are rated ineffective?

If a teacher is deemed ineffective and continues their employment, they shall not receive a raise in salary.

How will my salary be computed if I am a first-year teacher?

It is impossible to determine how first-year teachers will be compensated. The state minimum salary schedules have been repealed effective July 1, 2012. Act 1 does not require that new salary schedules be adopted before the 2013-2014 school year.

When the new salary schedules are adopted, they are required to be based solely on “effectiveness” (as determined by the “value-added” model), demand, and experience. No one of these three items can make up more than 50% of the salary calculation; however, since a first-year teacher does not possess two of the components (effectiveness or experience), it is impossible to determine how a new teacher will be compensated.

How do I get a raise?

To get a raise, teachers must be rated effective or highly effective. Different teachers with the same level of experience may be paid different salaries. Your individual salary will be determined by three factors: (a) your level of “effectiveness” under the “value-added” model, (b) the “demand” for your services based upon your area of certification, the particular needs of a school, the geographic area, and subject area, and (c) experience.

What should I do?

LAE recommends to all of its members that they demand a teacher contract with the employing school system prior to beginning work. Requiring that you receive a contract will take the uncertainty out of how you will be paid and whether you will be paid for any additional work.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Parents Should Know the Facts: A Letter to the Editor by LAE's Assistant Executive Director for UniServ & Instructional Advocacy Wayne Free

Parents should know the facts

As printed in the Monroe News Star

It worries me that so many people were surprised to hear about the recent news coverage surrounding John White's voucher scheme emails (as first reported by The News-Star).


I would have thought most would have realized by now that Gov. Bobby Jindal, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education leadership and the Department of Education have been manipulating and hiding data to disguise the real weakness and purpose of the current education reform initiatives.


How many have read in the news media that the two for-profit virtual charter schools, which receive millions of dollars in state funds, scored below state averages in practically every area of performance this year? No one?


That's because the DOE hasn't advertised it.


After looking at the data released by the DOE listing this springs student performance, I questioned the DOE about the virtual charter school performance I found on their website and whether the information was correct. Their answer was yes. I then asked what that said about virtual charter schools' performance. The answer was that they had "high parental satisfaction", and that's how the DOE measured their performance.


I find it difficult to believe that parents are "highly satisfied" if their children are failing. In fact, I think public satisfaction would be seriously lacking if the true weakness of for-profit virtual charters was known.


I think the BESE and DOE leadership has failed to inform the public because they know how poorly it would reflect upon the Jindal initiatives they supported and testified on before the Legislature.


I doubt it would surprise many to know that the DOE leadership worked against a legislative bill designed to provide greater accountability toward the for-profit virtual schools.


It's one thing to talk about parental choice. It's something totally different to talk about informed parental choice. What many fail to realize is that millions of dollars are being provided to for-profit entities to support failure.


Perhaps the Jindal/BESE/DOE leadership should be informing the public about these issues, or at least emailing each other, to see how to avoid such testimony.


Wayne Free


Assistant Executive Director


Louisiana Association of Educators

What the heck is that?

Symbol of the United Education Profession


This symbol, adopted by the NEA Executive Committee in 1966, combines the legacy of the past (the pi symbol which is the ancient Greek word for education) with new direction for the future (the red arrow ).

The spherical triangle serving as the background represents the mutually supportive programs of local, state, and national education associations to advance education. In one sentence, then, the design symbolizes the forward thrust of education through a united profession.


Louisiana NEA RA Delegates Leave the 2012 Convention Motivated & Ready To Stand Up for Change!


We had a great time in Washington D.C. this year! LAE delegates traveled to our nation’s capital to stand strong and we did! We worked together with our colleagues from across the nation, weighing in on policies which will help shape the future of the NEA! When it came to raising money for the NEA Fund for Children & Public Education, we were once again successful in meeting our obligation. By selling tickets to the annual Louisiana Mardi Dance, LAE delegates were able to make enough money to reach our goal of receiving an NEA pennant and windsock. Thanks again to all those who joined us in D.C. this year. We're looking forward to our trip to Atlanta next year! Check out some photos of this year's event below:



Monday, March 26, 2012

Highlights from our descent on the LA Capitol
March 14 & 15

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"THE WHITE SLIP PROTEST"
inspired by Sharyn Hebert's Red Card Initiative
Since many of us are unable to be at the Capitol this week due to LEAP testing, here's your chance to show your visual PROTEST for House Bills 974 & 976! You may have heard of the Red Card Initiative created by Sharyn Hebert. We thought the idea was so fantastic that we decided to expand upon the concept.

Now that the debate is headed to the house floor, white slips are used to write notes to representatives to voice opinions about debated legislation. We've downloaded those white slips for you to fill out and return to us so we can show representatives just how many individuals are in opposition to these bills. Follow the instructions provided below:
Step 1: Click here  to download the PDF of the House Message Slip.
Step 2: Click the following link to compile contact information on your representative: http://legis.la.gov/district/zipcode.asp  

Step 3: Click here to view the attached House of Representatives Seating chart and place the seat number of your representative in the blank provided at the top right hand corner of the House Message Slip.
Step 4: Fill out the highlighted fields on the PDF form, including your representative, your name and a personal message. *Please note all of the information entered with the exception of any personal messages, will duplicate on both forms.
Step 5: When you are finished, click Submit (top right hand corner of screen) to return your data. You can also save the PDF on your desktop and attach it to an email, send this email to ashley.davis@lae.org.

It's important that we get this done and get this done FAST! Please begin filling these cards out and sending them in!

 
STAY STRONG!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Governor Jindal Attempts to Suppress Educators & Thousands Push Back to Make Their Voices Heard

Thousands of education stakeholders flooded the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol Wednesday, but a majority of the teachers, support professionals, administrators – even parents and students – who showed up, were forced to remain outside on the Capitol steps due to the governor’s orders of closing down alternative entrances into the building.

“They wouldn’t let people in because they said the committee rooms were full, but it looked like Governor Jindal was trying to keep educators out of the room during his testimony,” said LAE President Joyce Haynes. “If he really believed in his plan, then he should have taken this opportunity to stand before educators and put it all out on the table; instead, he chose to lock us out of the process.”

School employees from across the state came together in Baton Rouge to speak against the governor’s extreme education agenda brought forth in House Bill 976. The bill calls for taking public tax dollars and turning them over to for-profit charter schools. It also calls for the expansion of a statewide school choice program. Educators want to know why the governor is demanding a rush to vote on such complex legislation that impacts the future of Louisiana’s public schools.

“It is the Legislature’s responsibility to schedule a fair hearing process that allows us to offer input on those bills that affect us,” said Haynes.

U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu sided with school employees as she spoke out against the rush. She agrees that the governor is moving outrageously fast to try to win committee approval for his plan.

"If this is such a great reform package, it should be able to stand the test of review. This is a democracy. This isn't a dictatorship," Landrieu said in an interview.

Educators could not agree more. Several school systems across the state closed so that educators could attend the hearings and advocate on behalf of their school districts. Attendees said they would rather be in the classrooms with their students, but when the intent is to attack hard working professionals by proposing to dismantle neighborhood schools through privatization, teachers will stand up to defend their students and their careers.

“We were forced to attend on a school day,” said Haynes. “Legislators should have made the appropriate move to schedule these hearings when education employees are available to attend, like in the evenings or on the weekends.”

The decision to close schools was made by school boards and administrators, many of whom joined teachers and support professionals at the Capitol in opposition to the legislation.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Educators Appalled by Request for Another Year of School Funding Freezes

Fourth Year Freeze Contributes To Larger Classes & Fewer Extracurricular Opportunities for Students

Just hours after President Obama urged the nation’s governors to invest more state resources in education, Louisiana’s top school board voted to ask lawmakers for a freeze on state aid to public schools for a fourth consecutive year.  LAE President Joyce Haynes was in the crowd when this decision was announced; she expressed her disappointment in those board members who went along with the vote.

“It’s extremely upsetting when you consider that the BESE has an obligation to do what’s right for their constituencies,” said Haynes. “We depend on them to have the courage to stand up to the governor.”

The action came as no surprise after Governor Jindal proposed the freeze in his budget for the 2012 legislative session. This request merely continues the governor’s track record of slighting Louisiana’s public school kids. In 2010, he made a $42 million error in the MFP when he failed to account for increases in student population. He also shorted the state’s K-12 and higher education systems another $68 million when he redirected the Federal Education Jobs grant. To date, districts still have not received the $79 million residue from the $147 million originally approved for Louisiana K-12 public schools. Educators continue to express concern over the impact this will have on Louisiana’s public school students who ultimately bear the brunt of the continued cuts, which contribute to increased class size and fewer extracurricular opportunities.

“Our state’s budget is hurting and we have a governor who continues to follow a national agenda that benefits big business,” said Haynes. “His continued use of legislation provided by the American Legislative Exchange Council benefits outside interests - interests that stand to benefit from the establishment of for-profit virtual schools, for-profit higher education providers and courses provided by commercial industries who want to turn our state into a business. This only creates a “lose-lose” situation for the children of Louisiana.”

President Haynes went on to discuss that the governor’s focus should be on investing in classroom priorities that build the foundation for student learning, while holding everyone – including administrators, teachers, parents, students and elected officials - accountable for student success.

“We applaud those BESE members - Ms. Lottie Beebe of Breaux Bridge, Ms. Carolyn Hill of Baton Rouge, Ms. Kira Orange-Jones of New Orleans and Ms. Holly Boffy of Youngsville - who had the courage to stand up for public education and vote to delay this request,” said Haynes.

The Louisiana Legislature will vote to either accept or reject BESE’s request when it convenes for the 2012 Regular Session next month.
 
Thoughts?