Professional Development

Louisiana Teachers Use Professional-Development Day to Protest

By Stephen Sawchuk — March 15, 2012 1 min read

Teachers in a couple Louisiana districts have gotten the green-light from their districts to take a professional-development day to protest legislative proposals on teacher quality rolling through the statehouse, the Advocate newspaper reports. (Hat tip to Eduflack for putting this on the radar screen.)

The dicey political nature of all this is obvious: Teachers are typically paid (publicly funded) salaries during in-service days, so is it appropriate for them to protest?

But as Eduflack, aka Patrick Riccards suggests, there’s an instructional challenge here. On the face value of things, protesting doesn’t seem to meet the definition of high-quality professional development supported by groups like Learning Forward. He writes:

Does protesting pending legislation, waving signs, speaking out to protect your benefits and the like, serve as a "comprehensive, sustained, and intensive approach" to raising student achievement? Does it demand that taxpayers, through their local school boards, cancel school days for students and pay teachers to go exercise their lobbying rights?"

The situation is perhaps indicative of one of the conceptual challenges to creating a culture of high-quality teacher professional development in K-12 education.

As I’ve written elsewhere, professional development is often seen as something nonessential, something that can be subordinated to other commitments, rather than as an essential professional responsibility for teachers, as it so often is in top-performing countries.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.