Charter schools, private school vouchers, value-added teacher evaluations and retirement are among the handful of controversial topics expected to be covered Sunday at an education forum hosted by District 3 Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member Lottie Beebe.
Beebe, a St. Martin Parish School System supervisor and former teacher who began her first term on BESE this year, says the forum is designed for educators and other stakeholders to learn more about Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education reform initiatives in a time frame that fits with their work schedules.
Jindal’s bold reform proposals, which include increased access to charter schools, a statewide private school voucher program and changes to teacher tenure, have sparked heated opposition from teachers’ unions and others who view Jindal’s agenda as an attack on public education.
“Many have indicated that public forums have been held at a time when they can’t attend,” Beebe says. “It’s an opportunity to learn about our concerns as educators in traditional public schools. I certainly know first-hand that there’s a decrease in morale [among educators]. People are very much concerned about their future.”
Confirmed speakers for Sunday’s forum include Louisiana Retired Teachers Association Executive Director Graig Luscombe; Assumption Parish School Board member Lee Meyer; St. Martin Parish testing supervisor Al Blanchard; Louisiana Educator blogger Michael Deshotels, and Parks Primary School Principal Bonnie Thibodeaux, who will speak on her experience in implementing the value-added teacher evaluation program (Act 54). Beebe explains that St. Martin Parish is one of the pilot districts rolling out the new teacher evaluation laws, and Thibodeaux will offer an objective look at what the process has been like so far, she says.
Several state lawmakers from Acadiana are also expected to attend.