The Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana on Wednesday announced its endorsement of House Bill 1033, a controversial proposal to tie teacher evaluations to student performance. A+PEL’s endorsement breaks rank with the powerful Louisiana Association of Educators, an affiliate of the National Education Association and one of the state’s largest teacher union.
“For more than 30 years, 98 percent of all Louisiana teachers receive ‘satisfactory’ ratings under the current teacher evaluation system, even in schools where students consistently fail to meet basic academic standards,” the A+PEL endorsement reads in part. “As educators, we cannot sit idly by while over 200,000 school children — one-third of all Louisiana school children — are performing below grade-level. HB 1033 addresses this disconnect and establishes a more quantitative and less subjective evaluation system for all educators.”
The A+PEL endorsements follows an open letter issued last week by LAE calling on House members to reject HB 1033, saying the legislation would “undermine efforts to recruit and retain the best teachers in Louisiana, especially in our high-needs schools.” The LAE letter goes on the characterize the bill’s mechanism for teacher evaluation as “a complex, vague and unproven system would put teachers in jeopardy of losing their jobs — and even their teaching licenses — without taking into account the many factors affecting student performance that are beyond the control of even the best instructors.”
A+PEL, which says it is not a teacher union, says the aim of the bill is good and its evaluation methodology is legitimate: “Using a complex statistical analysis of test scores, it tracks individual student improvement year to year and uses that progress to estimate the effectiveness of individual teachers, principals, and schools. This model of teacher assessment is growing nationwide, and research has shown that H.B. 1033 is on track with what other states are already doing. Further, the value-added model has been successfully used in 75 schools in Louisiana for the past three years.”
The bill — and the methodology behind the teacher evaluation process — received qualified support in April from the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, which characterized the value-added model as “a promising but untested science.” In consultation with LFT President Steve Monaghan, the bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Frank Hoffman, R-West Monroe, agreed to amendments including a guarantee of teacher confidentiality, a process to challenge unfavorable evaluations and a requirement that charter schools also be subject to the law.
The bill is scheduled to be heard Thursday by the Senate Education Committee. Read HB 1033 here.
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.