Dear Governor Jindal,
I choose to write to you publicly because I want you to understand the paradigm shift you have inflicted upon Louisiana, a disturbing trend simultaneously embroiling the entire country.
You have made teachers both the superheroes, solely responsible for solving all the myriad problems in a child’s life, and the villains, when we can’t achieve those superhuman victories expected of superheroes.
Gov. Jindal has vilified teachers repeatedly. He has said, “Short of selling drugs in the workplace or beating up one of the business’s clients, they can never be fired.” He has also said that Louisiana needs to pay “teachers for doing a good job instead of for the length of time they have been breathing.” I have a hard time seeing Louisiana education improve when their leader thinks teachers are all lazy, worthless blobs who’ve been breathing too long.
I have long since lost faith in a politician whose sole ambition is higher office, not the welfare of the children in Louisiana.
If I had advice to future teachers, it would have been the same advice I received from a wise lady named Frankie Mae Patout. She once told me, “For your sake, get out of education. For the sake of my grandchildren, stay in.” I chose to stick around, but this recent trend in Louisiana has me profoundly worried.
I have a very difficult time telling college students to go into education, even though overall I have found it an extremely rewarding vocation. In today’s climate, I would honestly advise considering something else.
Why would a sane human enter a profession whose superiors harp on you constantly about improving test scores versus creating a stable, well-rounded human being?
Why would a sane human enter an environment that is spending millions of dollars on new computer equipment for supposedly-valid tests than on fixing a crumbling infrastructure of schools buildings several decades old?
Why would a sane human select a profession where job security can only be earned after five years of constant judgment based on arbitrary test patterns with no evidence of validity?
Why would a sane human pick a job where you can be terminated instantly and the only due process involves a three-person panel, two members of which are appointed by the group that wants to terminate you (the principal and the superintendent)?
Why would a sane human choose to lose valuable teaching time yearly to prepare for the all-important test that not only determines your job security but also your pay raise, if any?
And yet, people who love children, who love watching the discovery process unfold in a child’s mind, who love getting personal notes from their students twenty or thirty years later, they will continue to teach. Perhaps we’re insane, but whoever said love was rational.
Vincent P. Barras