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 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.


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.


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


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 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.

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


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.


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: