People have always been blinded by large numbers. We move to the cities with the largest migrations. We rush into the churches with the largest memberships. Students attend the schools with the largest enrollments.
It looks big. It must be good. But it’s usually a big mess.
Fact is, usually where there are more people there are usually more problems. Most people will not admit it but it’s an underlined truth. Big doesn’t always mean Best.
Today in Baton Rouge and in several surrounding parishes in Louisiana, schools were closed so teachers could protest the Governor’s Bill. His new bill will completely reform Louisiana’s failing Educational System. However, this new bill could possibly be the cause for so many teachers losing their jobs.
One portion of the 45 page bill gives more power to Charter Schools. Teachers in Charter Schools will not have to be certified teachers. Teachers in the public school system do. Sounds a little unfair to teachers but the only reason a teacher must be certified is to prove they understand the requirements within the State’s School System. If a teacher is going to be under a Chartered System, it actually makes sense that he/she won’t need to be certified under the Public System.
The teachers also complain that many will lose their jobs due to lack of students within the Public System. That’s where we go back to numbers. The more students a school has the more federal money it receives to operate. The less students, the less teachers needed in that school. The Governor plans to allow parents to send their students to whatever school they choose with a State Voucher which will cover expenses for any child to attend the school of his choice.
Here’s what will happen. Parents will pull their kids completely out of underperforming schools and place them in schools that have proven successful. Many teachers who teach in underperforming schools will most likely be fired.
But, I can’t imagine a teacher who does a recognized great job losing the job. Seems mostly the ones who haven’t will probably be making the most noise.
Teachers must be fair though. Chartered Schools are proving to work. Here’s why…
Less students to a classroom gives the teacher a better assessment of student comprehension. Some chartered schools, because a teacher doesn’t have to be certified, uses an experienced teacher to head the class and assigns a Teacher’s Aid to every classroom, including high school classes. Smaller enrollment and more teacher visibility has proven successful.
My son attends McDonough 15 in the French Quarters. It is a KIPP School. Of course you know KIPP was featured as one of the Top Programs in the country according to Oprah and ABC News. It is a franchised like Charter Program which exists in more than 90 American cities. Statistics show 80% of KIPP Students go on to finish college. Only 40% of kids in the Public School System finish college.
It doesn’t mean KIPP is the only successful program but it means these Chartered Systems seem to be on to something.
The Curriculum for Public Schools hasn’t evolved in over three decades. Chartered programs allow teachers to use Contemporary Methods to reach students on more personal levels. Some use Hip-Hop. Others use Art. Many use Nature. They all seem to hold technology to a high priority using iPads, Touchscreen Monitors, Highly Technical Showboards, and personal computer stations for each child in many of the programs.
Because the Public School System Curriculum is tainted, most of the schools are as well. I met a School Board member in North LA just a few years ago who didn’t even have an email address and viewed technology as immaterial. Wow!
Finally, the biggest disaster for the Public School System is its inability to engage parental support. Chartered Schools and smaller schools have found numerous ways to increase parental involvement. Some analysts have estimated Parental Support is nearly 40% higher in the Private and Chartered Systems.
Public Schools must evolve. They are worth saving. Younger more innovative teachers are needed. Fresh ideas are needed. A closer relationship with Churches, Non-Profits, and Community Groups will help bridge a gap with parents. Less money should be spent on Band and Sports. More money should be spent on Technology. Principals and Educators shouldn’t be wardens. The System needs Life Coaches. The Curriculum has to progress. The state should hire creative thinkers to upgrade failing lesson plans.
Longer School Hours improve Comprehension, especially when the day is spread out to include Cultural Arts, Technology, Nature, and all the things they like as well. The Public School System is worth saving but even Jesus had to die to save the World. Governor Jindal is at least attempting to kill what isn’t working to save what possibly can work.
Big Numbers Do Lie. Big Results don’t. We are witnessing the decay of Public Education as we have known it. I’m optimistic. The worst thing that could happen is Louisiana remaining like it is. We all know, it doesn’t get any worse than this.