"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, December 11, 2009

Louisiana's Pastorek Plans to Funnel RTTT Bribe Money to Charter Schools

The Charterites have a sweet plan emerging in Louisiana to reward corporate charter schools with Duncan's RTTT bribes that were ostensibly intended to help public schools. Rather than focusing on arm-twisting school systems to charter conversions or restructuring, State Superintendent Paul Pastorek plans to simply bribe starving school systems into ripping up their collective bargaining agreements to allow pay per score evaluation and pay plans. Those systems unwilling to go along simply get no money, while charters, with no collective bargaining agreements to begin with, can suck up all the dough that public schools should be getting. From the Times-Picauyne:

. . . .State Superintendent Paul Pastorek told state lawmakers this week that the shift to focus more heavily on "building great (school) leaders and teachers" stems from revised information released by the U.S. Department of Education, which will dole out the unprecedented competitive grant money.

Pastorek said participating districts must have or agree to build a strong teacher and administrator evaluation process that will be used in deciding pay, promotion, professional development and retention.

"If you are going to evaluate people, use it, " he said.

Not every district will necessarily have to conduct evaluations in the same way, state department of education officials said. But at least half of a teacher's evaluation should be based on student performance. Pastorek said that rewarding teachers based on how much progress they make with individual students might encourage strong teachers to go to high-needs schools where they can make greater gains.

While Pastorek said he thought the shift away from overhauling low-performing schools would make the proposal more palatable to some, the mandate to link teacher pay to student performance might discourage districts for a whole different set of reasons.

To join the state's application, school districts need the superintendent, school board and union president -- where applicable -- to sign on. Education officials noted that linking hiring and pay decisions to student test scores might require changes to collective bargaining agreements between districts and their teachers unions.

Some charter schools that constitute their own districts are also eligible to apply. Since charters control their own employee pay and hiring decisions, opposition from teachers unions or pre-existing collective bargaining agreements are less likely to be an issue for them.

A considerable amount of money could be at stake. The state plans to apply for $300 million, which would be split between statewide initiatives and block grants to participating districts. Earlier estimates from the department of education put potential funding for Louisiana, widely considered a strong contender for a share of the money, at $250 million.. . .

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