But, as we all know, teachers can have long memories. Hundreds of teachers went to the state capital to protest the Jindal plan. Their voices went unheeded and the bills were rammed through, thanks to a governor-greased legislative fast-track.
To be sure, by the time the next legislative elections roll around, a grade should be able to be placed on the education overhaul approved by the Legislature.
Two bills were at the heart of the governor’s reform plan. House Bill 974 makes it more difficult for teachers to get tenure, something they very much value. They will have to be rated as “highly effective” for five out of six years to accomplish that goal.
All four area senators – Robert Adley (R), Sherri Buffington (R), Barrow Peacock (R), and Greg Tarver (D) supported the governor and voted for HB 974.
Area state representatives voting for the bill included Ritchie Burford (R), Henry Burns (R), Thomas Carmody (R), Alan Seabaugh (R), and Jeff Thompson (R).
Voting against HB 974 were Reps. Roy Burrell (D), Kenny Cox (D), Jim Morris (R), Barbara Norton (D), Gene Reynolds (D), and Patrick Williams (D).
House Bill 976 allows poor students from under-performing schools to easily transfer to a private school through a voucher program and makes it easier to create charter schools.
All four area state senators supported this part of the governor’s educational reform plan.
But the area House delegation did not give unanimous support to the proposal. Voting for HR 976 were Reps. Burford, Burns, Burrell, Carmody, Seabaugh, Thompson, and Williams.
Voting against were Reps. Cox, Morris, Norton, and Reynolds.
Teachers were outraged at the approval of the two bills, saying that Jindal’s plan is flawed and will hurt everyone in the classroom.
Jindal countered that the plan will revamp the public education system in Louisiana and will help the state have a competitive economy.
As a matter of information, there are 2,913 teachers in Caddo Parish, 1,311 in Bossier Parish, 379 in DeSoto, and 481 in Webster. In the entire state of Louisiana, there are 49,377 teachers.
Realizing those numbers could translate into a lot of votes in upcoming elections, Louisiana Democratic Party Chairman Buddy Leach, a former 4th District congressman, was quick to pounce on the opportunity.
He spoke to protesting teachers on the steps of the Louisiana Capitol, slamming Jindal for putting his national ambitions ahead of Louisiana’s children. And he accused the governor of bullying the state’s teachers and pushing through an educational reform plan that is dangerous for the state’s educational system.
His oratory was well-received by the teachers who felt that their lobbying efforts were ignored by the governor and the legislators who represent them. Many were pleased just to have a sympathetic ally.
by Lou Gehrig burnett
Publisher of Fax-Net
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