…she tends to have a good case of the rabbit ears.
I offer as evidence Rolfe McCollister’s editorial at the Baton Rouge Business Report today, in which he sounds off in favor of the school voucher program and calls on the carpet the most vocal of the educrats and their supporters doing everything they can to kill school choice in Louisiana before it matures into a full-fledged educational marketplace in which innovation and competition raises the bar for everyone…
I have been observing the battle for school reform and choice for more than two decades. Lately, I have grown tired of listening to the endless whining and complaining of BESE members Lottie Beebe and Carolyn Hill (most recently criticizing the wonderful work and teachers of Teach For America), union heads Joyce Haynes and Steve Monaghan—and now professor and newspaper columnist Bob Mann. They make excuse after excuse for decades of failure in Louisiana’s public schools, blaming everyone and everything but the system and the adults who ran it—and usually fighting any changes.
Fortunately, the people in this group, all firmly entrenched in the status quo, are in the minority these days and do little more than spew negative rhetoric. They never offer anything new; they just suggest we go back to the way we’ve always done things before. That means protecting the adults and their jobs, despite having 60,000 students in F-rated schools and 220,000 students performing below grade level. Wouldn’t you want to try something different? To do more of the same and expect different results is insanity, according to Einstein. And I would sign the papers to commit all five of these folks to an asylum. (But then, that would be cruel to the patients at the asylum.)
McCollister’s piece is well worth a read, as he touches on all the lies and fabrications Bob Mann has belched forth about school choice. My favorite…
Mann also misconstrued the facts about charters and the RSD and was called on the carpet in a letter to the editor of The Times-Picayune by Caroline Roemer Shirley, executive director of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools. (Her father, former Gov. Buddy Roemer, began the education reform movement in 1988 and fought these same “forces” with their same excuses.) She wrote, “While Mann’s apparent intent was to lob attacks on Gov. Jindal’s reforms, Gov. Foster actually implemented the accountability system and created the Recovery School District, with Mann’s former boss, Gov. Blanco expanding (thankfully) the reach of the RSD to include most schools in New Orleans.”
She continued, “Mann claims charter schools in New Orleans—the public school system in New Orleans—are the ‘worst performing in the city.’ Test results show, however, that student performance continues to improve faster than any district in the state, a direct result of the re-creation of a public school system based entirely on choice and principal-driven decision-making.”
Roemer noted, “The most dramatic of these gains are in the RSD, with all open enrollment schools. These schools, failing in the previous system, have improved test results six points this year and 34 points since 2007, the best in the state.”
But of course, when you talk about school choice in a favorable light you can count on being trolled by the people invested in the old Soviet-style model the progressives have saddled us with in public education – and Beebe has become famous for it.
She more than lived up to that reputation this time, posted not one comment but two under McCollister’s piece…
On another note, could this reform be about money? Have you reviewed the million dollar contracts in the Recovery School District and the amendments to those contracts? It appears we are doing business transactions in a piecemeal fashion. A recent article reported the waste of 33 million dollars and some may shrug their shoulders and say, “Well, it’s only FEMA dollars!” Well, sir, it is my tax dollars. I want accountability.
Why do we need out of state contractors and teachers when there are firms in Louisiana and universities? (This is a rhetorical question, of course. You and I both know what the education reform is about.) There are at least seven schools that are mothballed in New Orleans and students are attending schools in portable buildings seven years after Katrina. Why is this? Are there no construction firms in Louisiana? And where are our politicians who are concerned about our students? Rolf, I suggest you expect the same accountability regarding the rebuilding of schools in New Orleans as I do. Perhaps, you should devote more time to researching the “Miracle in New Orleans RSD” than being concerned about the whining of “those who are part of the status quo.” For the record, I am not included in that group. Furthermore, you don’t know me, so I hardly think you can categorize me into any group.
Beebe’s day job is Human Resources Director for the St. Martin Parish Schools.
What are the St. Martin Parish Schools like?
- Breaux Bridge Elementary is a D school.
- Breaux Bridge High is a C school.
- Breaux Bridge Junior High is a D school.
- Breaux Bridge Primary is a C school.
- Catahoula Elementary is a C school.
- Cecilia High is a B school.
- Cecilia Junior High is a C school.
- Cecilia Primary is a C school.
- The St. Martin Early Learning Center is a C school.
- Parks Middle is a C school.
- Parks Primary is an A school. Finally, some excellence.
- St. Martinville Junior High is a D school.
- St. Martinville Primary is a D school.
- St. Martinville High is a D school.
- Stephensville Elementary is a C school.
- Teche Elementary is a C school.
One A, one B, nine C’s and five D’s. That’s a 1.88 grade point average on a four-point scale.
And how much taxpayer money is being spent to produce such excellence?
- $9,797 per student per year at Breaux Bridge Elementary.
- $9,148 at Breaux Bridge High.
- $11,121 at Breaux Bridge Junior High.
- $10,488 at Breaux Bridge Primary.
- $10,522 at Catahoula Elementary.
- $8,838 at Cecilia High.
- $9,240 at Cecilia Junior High.
- $9,278 at Cecilia Primary.
- $10,015 at The St. Martin Early Learning Center.
- $8,932 at Parks Middle.
- $8,664 at Parks Primary.
- $12,187 at St. Martinville Junior High.
- $9,516 at St. Martinville Primary.
- $9,173 at St. Martinville High.
- $13,209 at Stephensville Elementary.
- $8,841 at Teche Elementary.
Isn’t it interesting that the A school, Parks Primary, is the cheapest one at $8,664 and the B school, Cecilia High, is the second-cheapest at $8,838?
That might indicate a lack of solid financial controls in St. Martin Parish, or at least an inattention to proper resource management.
There’s Lottie Beebe’s hawkish attention to accountability for tax dollars. It’s right there in the school district which employs her as an executive.
But she insists she’s not in the status quo, and offers as evidence the fact that McCollister doesn’t know her. Which brings to mind Matthew 7:16…
By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Beebe wasn’t done, though. She was just getting started…
Actually, who cares what you think about my whining? As a BESE representative, I am entitled to voice my concerns as well as the concerns of constituents. My campaign was based on responsible school reform and not on haphazardly implemented reform initiatives that are nothing more than experimentation. High quality teachers and school administrators are leaving the classroom in numbers.
In case you don’t know it, there is a mass exodus of teachers leaving the profession. Perhaps, it is because of the disrespect shown to them. Many have reached out to me to say they have had enough abuse over the years with one experimental teacher evaluation after the other. They are going home. Governor Roemer’s evaluation model failed and his son and daughter appear to want to salvage their father’s dream.
On another note, we are requiring our teachers to write their own curriculum when many lack the expertise at writing the curriculum. Teams are set up in the St. Martin Parish School System. We are making every effort to comply with the state’s mandates. It is evident you think teachers are responsible for student failure. For the record, I am not against those enlisted by Teach for America. I am against TFA–a staffing agency raking in millions of dollars that could be better spent on resources to aid in school improvement efforts. The Louisiana Department of Education has an Educator Pipeline to which individuals across the state can apply to teach in Louisiana at no cost, sir!!!. There is no staffing fee required! In closing, I invite you to visit the St. Martin Parish School System to spend a week–not an hour. I also invite you to substitute teach in a classroom for a day or two. Perhaps, you would walk away with an attitude adjustment and respect for educators.
Are teachers leaving charter schools and private schools in droves? If so, we haven’t heard about it.
Maybe they’re leaving traditional public schools because that model doesn’t work anymore and they know it.
But based on the numbers above, maybe McCollister ought to spend a week at St. Martin. He could bring a CPA and a management expert with him – and it’s quite possible the attitude adjustment which results might be on the part of somebody other than who Beebe expects.
And now, shortly, I expect we’ll see some comments from the District 3 BESE representative to lecture us on how little we know about public schools and the status quo.
UPDATE: Sorry – as of 11 days ago Lottie Beebe is now the Superintendent of Schools in St. Martin, which proves our point even more.