Posted In: Louisiana, Workers' Rights
by Colleen Flaherty
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is once again attempting to pass legislation to devastate public schools. However, Louisiana educators and administrators are not going quietly.
On Tuesday, in an unprecedented display of unity, leaders from all of the state’s most influential education organizations, including the Louisiana School Boards Association, the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, The Louisiana Association of School Executives and the Louisiana Association of Educators, came together to voice their opposition to Jindal’s anti-public education politics.
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“The Jindal administration continues to back policies that veer from best practices and research-based strategies that are proven to improve student achievement,” said social studies teacher and Louisiana Association of Educators President Joyce Haynes.
Earlier this year, Jindal’s extreme education reform bill, known as Act 1, was declared unconstitutional. Rather than waiting for the appeal, Jindal has decided to introduce pieces of identical legislation, much to the ire of Louisiana educators.
The three extreme bills, also known as “Act I Redux,” include:
- HB 478: Intensifies the reliance on high-stakes tests to evaluate teachers and schools. It also takes away all due process rights with just one “ineffective” rating with no proof or documentation required.
- HB 596: Tightens regulations on public schools while deregulating privately managed schools.
- HB 644: Educator salaries would be determined only by the flawed teacher evaluation system. Educators could also be fired with weakened due process.
“We are coming together to fight for our students as well as for the profession. We want a better evaluation system for our teachers and proven research that we’re using the correct materials to improve the achievement of our students,” said Haynes.
“Basically everything that our governor is doing is either flawed, punitive, not research-based, and it is the destruction of public education and our future, which would mean our children.”
On Wednesday, when the bills were supposed to be heard before the House Committee on Education, more than 100 educators from all over the state took a day of leave to testify against the bills. Cammie Songe is a high school history teacher that spent the day in Baton Rouge.
“I was hoping to speak out against the continuous barrage of bills that seek not to increase student learning and engagement, but only stand to further alienate teachers from a profession that is in desperate need of committed, dedicated educators,” said Songe.
However, the three bills have been deferred and the educators were unable to testify. According to Songe, Jindal and some legislators have repeatedly shown disrespect to the state’s educators.
“I don’t believe that Governor Jindal’s plans are in the best interest of students. If he truly wanted to make education policy that would enact true change, he would not attack the very people who have to execute his policies daily in the classroom,” said Songe.
“At this point, my greatest hope is that our legislators will focus on Jindal’s declining approval ratings and do what is in the best interest of public education.”
If the governor and his policies are becoming increasingly unpopular, why is this legislation being introduced again? According to Haynes, it’s about the money.
“We have a state that’s being taken over by folks from other places who come in the name of reform, and their reform does not mean improving the achievement of our students, but it is about filling their pockets,” said Haynes
“We have a governor who has shown day in and day out that he does not care about the folks in Louisiana or their children. We’re asking that they put the public back in public education.”