Gambling on Education, Dodging Blame, and Lighting the Way

By Scott J. Cech — April 22, 2005 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Cigarettes, alcohol, and gambling are all good for you, provided you live in Louisiana, and especially if you’re a teacher. That’s the line Governor Kathleen Blanco has been taking in her push to finance a statewide $1,000-per-teacher raise with a hike on so-called sin taxes. The proposal aims to raise $120 million annually because, the Democratic governor says, “[T]o continue long-term educational improvements in Louisiana, we must be able to attract, retain, and reward our teachers.” Not surprisingly, the idea has raised the ire o+f the Bayou State’s video-poker, tobacco, and spirits industries, as well as state Republicans, who have promised to kill the plan. But the proposal has also caught flak from its would-be beneficiaries. Pooh-poohing Blanco’s insistence that a thousand bucks is a “meaningful” pay raise, the Louisiana Federation of Teachers has seen fit to educate the governor about the definition of that word. “Meaningful,” the union says, starts at $2,000.

Speaking of fusillades, a longtime recess favorite has hit the secondary-school big time in West Des Moines, Iowa. Taking its place in the intramural pantheon beside lacrosse, basketball, and bowling, dodge ball has taken Valley High School by storm. “Some of the games can be intense, but all of them are really fun,” says Gabe Carlson, the school’s club sports coordinator, adding that the game was introduced this year by popular request. Dodge ball season is now over, but if the sport’s success is any indication—21 mixed-gender teams took part in the just-concluded championship tournament—VHS students will be pelting each other for many years to come.

Avoiding incoming attacks has become second nature at the U.S. Department of Education lately, but officials there could be forgiven for thinking that even their erstwhile allies are out to get them. Following Texas’ outright defiance of No Child Left Behind rules and a lawsuit threat by Connecticut’s attorney general, Utah lawmakers have passed the most explicit state repudiation yet of the law. Like Connecticut’s executive branch and both legislative houses in Texas, the home state of both President Bush and education secretary Margaret Spellings, Utah’s legislature is dominated by Republicans. But party loyalty didn’t stop Beehive State officeholders from overwhelmingly approving a bill directing their education officials to ignore parts of NCLB that require state funding. The state’s Republican governor has promised to sign it into law. “I wish they’d take the stinking money and go back to Washington,” said GOP Representative Steven R. Mascaro.

Money—or rather, the lack thereof—was always the excuse Cleveland Municipal School District officials gave teachers when they begged for extra security. Now, after years of pleading, they’re finally getting their wish, but it’s the educators themselves whom the guards have their eyes on. Administrators have hired 23 security officers to make sure potentially disgruntled teachers at the 22 schools slated for closure this June don’t take or destroy any district property on their way out. Boxes, bags, and even teachers’ purses have been searched. The guards are costing an estimated $126,187, but faculty who wonder where the money is coming from needn’t worry, a district spokesman says—the savings realized by closing the schools should cover the security bill.

Award ceremonies for educators are about the only education gatherings where one can reasonably expect a break from talk of financial doom and gloom these days, but new National Teachers Hall of Fame inductee John F. Mahoney made it the centerpiece of his acceptance speech. In a stark departure from most teaching-award pablum, the 57-year-old math and robotics teacher took the opportunity to point out the abysmal condition of his Benjamin Banneker Academic High School and the rest of Washington D.C.’s public schools. In front of students and city officials, and with news cameras clicking, Mahoney said, “For over 50 years, the District and federal governments have effectively ignored the children of this city.” His blunt assessment has already brought a small but significant improvement: After years of vain attempts to get burned-out bulbs in the school’s auditorium replaced, district administrators contacted Mahoney’s principal immediately after the ceremony to promise the lights would be fixed. There’s something to be said for throwing light on a subject.

Sources for all articles are available through links. Teacher Magazine does not take credit or responsibility for reporting in linked stories. Access to some may require registration or fee.


Student Well-Being Webinar After-School Learning Top Priority: Academics or Fun?
Join our expert panel to discuss how after-school programs and schools can work together to help students recover from pandemic-related learning loss.
Budget & Finance Webinar Leverage New Funding Sources with Data-Informed Practices
Address the whole child using data-informed practices, gain valuable insights, and learn strategies that can benefit your district.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
ChatGPT & Education: 8 Ways AI Improves Student Outcomes
Revolutionize student success! Don't miss our expert-led webinar demonstrating practical ways AI tools will elevate learning experiences.
Content provided by Inzata

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: May 17, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: May 3, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: April 26, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: March 29, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read