Speaking out against cuts
BATON ROUGE, La (FOX44) — A group of school leaders say they've had enough with cuts to education. Now, they're banding together and speaking out.
Carnell Washington was a teacher for most of his life. He retired after 34 years in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, and now that he's finished, he says he doesn't like the direction that the education system is moving in.
"We believe that this governor and this administration have made poor choices," says Washington, a member of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers.
Carnell joined a small group of educators who spoke outside of the Department of Education building Wednesday. They call themselves the Coalition for Louisiana Public Education. They are worried for our children.
"We are coming together to try and stop the train from the direction in which it is going," explains Washington.
The coalition claims that the state isn't properly funding its public schools. "We want the governor to get rid of the mentality to cut, cut, cut. School districts cannot operate without funds. We have to create more funds."
And funding problems are just the tip of the iceberg. The group has complaints about class sizes, teacher salaries, and performance in Recovery School Districts.
"With the few exceptions, which you can count on one hand, most of the schools are really not performing that well. In fact, many of them are atrocious," says Charles Hatfield with Research on Reforms.
The group wants to see some changes, starting with state leaders. "Great leaders are made because they solve problems," says Washington. "You don't solve problems by cutting. You solve problems by creating solutions."
The group says they will rally on the steps of the capitol Monday morning at the start of session.
The Commissioner of Administration, Paul Rainwater, responded to the statements made against Governor Jindal and state lawmakers. His full statement is below:
“We have protected K-12 education funding and continue to do so in the proposed FY 12 budget. This means the MFP will increase from $3.31 billion in FY11 to $3.38 billion in FY12.
“While funding to other programs has been reduced by 26 percent over the last three years, funding for the state’s MFP – the state’s largest allocation of education funding – has increased by 6.2 percent, from $3.12 billion in FY 08 to $3.31 billion in FY 11. From FY 08 to FY 11, our state’s appropriated student count allocation increased from $4,735 to $5,038 per student, representing a 6.4 percent increase. Taking into account the new dollars committed to the MFP in this budget, the MFP will have increased by 8.2 percent since FY 08.
“Also, Governor Jindal has joined the Department of education, BESE, and seven local school superintendents to announce the launch of the Student-Based Budgeting Pilot program, which will use academic and financial strategies to place a laser-like focus on student achievement and help ensure every academic and fiscal decision is filtered through that lens. Often the decision-making power over what is best for children happens far away from the classroom. Providing principals with direct supervision and autonomy over school budgets will place those decisions in the hands of the individuals who know the children’s needs firsthand, while also addressing inequities in funding between schools that result today from a budgeting model based on cost drivers with no relationship to student outcomes. A flexible model that can meet the unique needs of the schools involved, student based budgeting has one goal, no matter the size or structure of a district or its schools: supporting student achievement by leveraging dollars strategically.
“The FY 12 budget also continues to invest in important initiatives to improve student outcomes and achievement, including:
· $29 million for the Ensuring Literacy for All (ELFA) program designed to ensure every student is reading and writing at or above grade level by 3rd grade. This benefits almost 222,000 students during 2011-2012 school year.
· $7.2 million for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) allowing 30,000 students to benefit from enriched science and math programs.
· $76 million for Cecil Picard LA4 Early Childhood Program to allow almost 17,000 “at risk” 4-year-olds to be enrolled in LA4 during the 2011-2012 school year.
· $3.95 million in TANF for dropout prevention programs (Jobs for America’s Graduates and EMPLOY) to allow more than 4,000 students to participate in these programs during the 2011-2012 school year.
· $17.6 million for Career and Technical Education (CTE) to allow almost 170,000 students to benefit from the promotion and integration of career and technical concepts within the academic and counseling framework of schools to prepare them for immediate and successful entry into the workforce or enrollment in post-secondary institutions.
· $21.6 million for High School Redesign to support programs contributing to achieving an 80 percent graduation rate, including Accelerated Student Academic Pathway, Attendance Recovery, Credit Recovery, Everybody Graduates, High Schools that Work, Louisiana Virtual School, New Tech Network, and Senior Project.”
To learn more about Research on Reform check out their website: www.researchonreform.org.