Alexis de Tocqueville said: “I cannot help fearing that men may reach a point where they look on every new theory as a danger, every innovation as a toilsome trouble, every social advance as a first step toward revolution, and that they may absolutely refuse to move at all.”
Human beings enjoy the status quo; people are afraid of change. This is the case for many reasons. First, change can bring about truly terrible results. A change to the way something is traditionally done can wind up being disastrous. Second, change can force people to learn; it can make people climb up out of their living graves and move. Finally, sometimes change can hurt the bottom line, financially.
One of the areas in which there is considerable opposition to change is in the educational system. The American public educational system is failing at a comically fast clip—except it isn’t funny for the kids who aren’t getting the education they deserve. The reason—in my opinion—that we are failing is because we refuse to innovate. We refuse to dig ourselves out of the rut we’ve created, and do something to help out our kids. This is mainly the fault of the Left.
Let’s be honest, there are morons on both sides of the aisle, but in terms of education reform, the Left has taken the cake, then eaten the cake, then lied about there ever being a cake. The old methods of teacher tenure, old-school evaluation, unions, and layoff structure are killing our schools and hurting our kids.
That’s why I am particularly impressed by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. He has initiated reforms to the educational system that are not only beginning to work, but are aimed at helping children, not teachers.
According to Town Hall:
“The state of Louisiana is already well known for its evolving approach to public education, but Governor Bobby Jindal is looking to make it even better. The city of New Orleans already has 80 percent of students in charter schools and the state has one of the most extensive voucher programs in the country. But Governor Jindal is looking to take it a step further by including the private sector in the education process.”
What Governor Jindal has done is put into place a system for evaluating teachers called COMPASS. According to Louisiana’s department of education website:
“Compass is the state’s educator support and evaluation system. The system is designed to provide all teachers with regular, meaningful feedback on their performance and aligned supports to foster continuous improvement…Under the new system, every teacher and school leader in each public school is evaluated annually using a four-tiered rating – highly effective, effective: proficient, effective: emerging, and ineffective…For teachers, half of the evaluation is based on student learning and half of the evaluation is based on observations by principals or their trained designees using the state’s Compass teacher rubric.”
According to Nola: “StudentsFirst [education reform group] has named Louisiana #1 for ‘putting students first in its education policies,’ commending in particular the state’s new teacher evaluation system.”
What drives the success of the system is performance, not seniority. Every teacher is evaluated by COMPASS, and this system determines layoffs, and raises.
All of these reforms seem to be working, as Louisiana rocketed from 23rd to 15th in Education Week’s “quality counts” report card. There is a ways to go in terms of achievements in math and reading, but the reforms are making a difference. The United States holds rankings from 69.3 to 87.5; Louisiana stands at 79, up from last year’s score of 77.2. That’s quite an achievement in one year.
What Bobby Jindal has done as Governor is what this country should be all about: innovation. If this system continues to work—and it seem only to be getting better—the entire country can implement it. The only problem is the Left.
The Left in this country—specifically the unions—want things to stay the same. They want to throw more and more money at the problem, close their eyes, and hope it goes away. They will tell you that voucher programs hurt schools and teachers. They will tell you that evaluating teachers in a new way is dangerous, and can lead to unnecessary firings. They will say so many things because they are afraid; they are afraid that reforms will work. And if reforms work, the unions will eventually die out, tenure will be a thing of the past, and the greedy union mobster bosses will loss all their power and money.
That’s what it comes down to: power and money. The Left hates innovation because it means they may lose power. They have no care for the children—despite their constant blood-spilling over education—they just like to appear to care. Ultimately, the unions do what’s best for the teachers’ bottom line. They don’t aim reforms at helping children succeed, because they don’t care.
Watch out for this. The Left says that they are the party of education. They are not. They cut open their hearts and bleed for education as a show; it’s not real. Conservatives are leading the charge with vouchers, assessment reforms and pure innovation. I am glad to see Bobby Jindal moving forward so brilliantly in the name of true education reform.