Letter: Teacher blasts new agenda

It’s a shame I can’t write that I’m appalled and surprised by Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White’s comment that teachers leaving the profession “are more likely to be ineffective.” (The Advocate, Jan. 29).

The arrogance revealed in the subtext of that offensive remark is one reason I recently retired. A National Board Certified teacher with 25 years of classroom experience, I dared to be an exception to White’s opinion and scored “highly effective” on the new teacher evaluation. An evaluation designed by Charlotte Danielson, a former economist, whose bio states she “taught at all levels from kindergarten to college.”

It’s interesting that she obtained all those certifications. But in John White’s world, who needs an education degree to teach? (I’m relieved he’s not heading the AMA because my next surgery might have been performed by a landscape architect).

For the past two years, teachers have not received a pay increase, not even a cost-of-living increase. Over the same period of time, insurance premiums have risen, so teachers are earning less. Future “raises” of a maximum of $400 (annually, not per paycheck) are actually stipends, which means the increase is not necessarily fixed.

Recently, the Washington Post wrote about thousands of emails released between the Foundation for Excellence in Education and Chiefs for Change, a foundation working with public officials to write education laws that could benefit some of its corporate funders. According to the article, John White is a member of Chiefs for Change, and Paul Pastorek, former Louisiana superintendent, is an emeritus member and also a board member of the Broad Foundation (White is a Broad Academy alumnus). There are records, according to the article, reimbursing White and Pastorek for travel to Orlando and Washington, D.C., for FEE and Chiefs for Change events.

The article quotes Donald Cohen, chair of the nonprofit In the Public Interest, a resource center on privatization and responsible for contracting in the public sector. He said the Foundation for Excellence in Education is asked by companies “to help state officials pass laws and regulations making it easier to expand charter schools, require students to take online education courses, and do other things that could result in business and profits for them.” (Washington Post, Jan. 30).

We teachers are a savvy group; we can connect the dots. So, I do agree with the superintendent in this regard: I am likely to be ineffective in the classroom. Ineffective, that is, in speaking the truth about what is truly happening in education in Louisiana. Retirement affords me the opportunity to fight for and support teachers who are providing quality education — despite the new agenda, not because of it.

Christa B. Allan, NBCT

retired educator

New Orleans