First and foremost, I need to give a disclaimer that the following letter is from my perspective. I do not speak for my school or my school district. As an educator who cares deeply for my state, my community and mostly my students, I feel I must speak from my personal beliefs and experiences about the future of Louisiana’s education.
I understand that teaching must evolve based on the changes in society. Just like a doctor, when we learn more-effective practices, we replace old, outdated ones. Over the past four years, teachers around our state have worked tirelessly to transition our instructional practices to better meet the needs of our students.
This past week, Gov. Bobby Jindal announced that he plans to propose a process in the upcoming legislative session that will end all of our progress toward better preparing our students for their futures. What is his plan? To turn back the clock in classrooms across our state to the 2004-05 grade-level expectations. These GLEs are from 10 — yes, 10 — years ago when we had a 60 percent graduation rate in Louisiana.
Jindal thinks that once we bring back these GLEs for two years, legislators and school board members should vote on new standards for our state. At that point, if these new standards are voted into effect, we begin the lengthy and painful transition process from basic GLEs to rigorous standards ALL OVER AGAIN. This plan doesn’t make sense and only creates chaos in classrooms.
This plan is a slap in the face to all of the educators and students who have worked so hard to prove that Louisiana can compete academically. This plan reeks of politics, and our students will pay the ultimate price.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to continue on the path that we have been traveling for five years? Shouldn’t we allow the actual teachers to evaluate our progress thus far and improve the standards to make them Louisiana’s very own?
This plan at least keeps our students moving forward.
This plan doesn’t require us taking dusty, old textbooks off of the shelf and returning to worksheets with low-level questioning and activities. This plan would allow teachers, the actual people involved in educating our students, to have a hand in making decisions about the classroom instead of politicians who are so far removed from it.
To the powers that be, I am asking you to make the right decision to put students first. Please consider giving teachers the power to decide what’s best for our students. Please respect the limitless hours of planning, sleepless nights, professional development and countless other sacrifices we have made to prove our belief in Louisiana’s students.