Tag Archives: Public Schools

Valarie Hodges: I Love Seeing White Heterosexual Christian Faces

15 Jul

So nice to see so many white faces.

Thank you to my friend Never Contrary for inspiring me to write this article.  TSM readers might remember Never Contrary’s story on Gutting Public Schools.  In response to Louisiana’s Republican Governor Bobby Jindal pushing for a voucher system, thus gutting the Public School system, Republican Valarie Hodges was very supportive.  To Hodges’ great astonishment (a big word for her, I fear) she realized that meant money would not only go to Christian schools, but would also go to Muslim schools:

I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools…Unfortunately it will not be limited to the Founders’ religion. We need to insure that it does not open the door to fund radical Islam schools. There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently. I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana.

The Charm Free Bigot, Hodges seems in desperate need of a history lesson regarding our Founding Fathers and the issue of religion. She also seems to need a lesson on Freedom of religion meaning all religions, not just Christianity. Of course I would like to ask Hodges, why do you get to decide? Why do people who don’t fit your idea of being human need your approval? Talk about white privilege!  You and Jindal are sad commentaries for the state of Louisiana!  Our Muslim brothers and sisters have every right to education as you do, Ms. Hodges.  How sad that you, Ms. Hodges, are on the wrong side of history and you are a white bully with power.

Louisiana: A Model for Gutting Public Schools

3 Jul

Education should be reserved for those who can afford it.

Today it is an honor and pleasure for me to introduce a new TSM contributor.  Never Contrary was gracious enough to provide this fantastic post.  Never Contrary has an amazing voice for social justice and understands the intersections of oppression and why we must change systems.  There are many times when I am in awe of Never Contrary’s voice and ability to speak truth to power. In this first article by Never Contrary, the Voucher system is exposed as the tool to gut public schools and create a classist society where only the wealthy may benefit from an education. For me this article addresses so many different issues all at once: class, race, gender, and–because Never Contrary is part of the LGBT community–multiple identities experiencing oppression.

Louisiana is consistently in the bottom three states in education every year. It is quite apparent that change is needed. Change has come.

I will start at the beginning. Three years ago I walked into my principal’s office. I was given a login to a program that included every kid I had taught in the past two years and their grades in my courses and state tests. I asked what this was for and was told it was for an upcoming law that would track student performance to their teachers. I found it odd that the state had not only already paid for the computer program to be built but was already using it before the laws had even begun discussions in the legislature. Flash forward three years. The news laws are finally being discussed. I knew that of course they would pass, as they had already been paid for. The whole debate was simply a show.

What exactly passed?

A voucher system. This will allow students in failing schools to have access to a scholarship to attend any private school of their choosing. Including the school in North Louisiana that believes that the proof that evolution is false is the Loch Ness monster.  I wish I was making this up.

Each student that leaves a public school takes their money with them. In October, the private school receives the money from the state. At that point the school can kick the student out for behavior, or grades, or frankly anything, and the student goes back to public school. The private schools keep the money, of course.  There will be no accountability for the private schools in any way about what they are doing with the students while their attend their schools.

Students that stay in public schools are now being tracked. It is being called “value added.” Teachers are given a score every year. Half of that score is your evaluation from your administrator. Because those reviews with your boss are always fair and free of the politics of the work place, of course. The other half comes from a score based on your students’ state scores that year, their attendance, their socio-economic background, their scores the previous year, etc. These scores will then be tied into teacher’s pay. It has yet to be decided exactly how.

The tenure program has also been axed. In order to receive tenure, a teacher must perform in the top 5% of their district for five out of six consecutive years. If a teacher has two years of unacceptable scores they will be terminated regardless of past performance.

Teachers can go through a rigorous process to become national board certified. It is very challenging to pass. Only the best teachers are able to. It used to come with a $5,000 pay raise, as motivation for teachers to improve their craft. The governor also took this away. Why reward the excellent teachers, when you can just punish the bad ones? Of course the state superintendent of education in Louisiana makes $349,249.00 a year.

The Many Voices in Paul LePage’s Head

21 Jan

Great idea! I will shut down the public schools!

While I have never thought Paul LePage was a good human being, I am now worried that he really has something organically wrong that further precludes him from being qualified to maintain the office of Governor.

Yesterday, LePage, in his typical partisan bullying voice, declared:

And I’ll go one step further, if they can modify it–and a lot of Democrats still think we’re fooling around and we’re making political hay here. Right now, in order to continue the way we are, I will close schools May 1 and use that money. Because that’s where we are.

Shall interject some facts here?  LePage has been all about protecting the 1% of the wealthiest Americans and now it looks like he is refusing to raise taxes to sustain education.  Of course, by keeping a population ignorant we can ensure they vote against their best interests.

Emily Cain, the House Democratic Leader, said:

LePage is presenting a choice that isn’t on the table. It’s not realistic to simply say you can just close schools. It’s hardly worth even discussing, because that’s really not what we’re deciding between. It’s a very dramatic–and I think a dangerous–fear-mongering approach.

Sadly, we just have further evidence that LePage has been drinking some rancid Tea at the party.  We can only hope Maine will go the way of Wisconsin right now.  One thing for sure is that we have to get rid of these misogynistic, racist, homophobic, bigoted elected officials.

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