Two key pieces of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education reform package won late-night and early-morning approvals by the House Education Committee following a 16-hour hearing that drew thousands of teachers from across the state to protest Jindal’s reform measures.
In a 12-6 vote, the committee voted 12-6 and almost completely along party lines in support of Jindal’s statewide expansion of private school vouchers for students who attend public schools currently graded as “C,” “D,” or “F,” as well as his plan to allow for more charter schools, The Times-Picayune reports.
The 18-member committee later voted 13-5 in favor of House Bill 974, which eliminates teacher tenure for teachers who do not rank among the top percentile under a new evaluation system that’s still being finalized and eliminates seniority from their salary structures:
For his part, the governor told lawmakers that his agenda would fundamentally remake primary and secondary education in Louisiana for the better. “In America, we don’t believe that everyone has the right to equal outcomes,” Jindal said. “We do believe that everyone has the right to equal opportunity.”
The proceedings began amid a circus-like atmosphere, with more than 1,000 teachers on the Capitol steps while Jindal testified before an administration-friendly committee. The session ended in a quiet Capitol, with the committee room dominated mostly by the lobbyists for business groups, nonpartisan advocacy concerns and the “school-choice” movement exchanging weary congratulations with Jindal lieutenants and his legislative allies. As the room cleared, Jindal’s chief of staff, Stephen Waguespack mused to no one in particular, “Democracy at work.”
But the comments from Waguespack completely contradict those of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who sent out a press release Tuesday publicly criticizing the fast pace of the legislation Jindal is pushing.
"A good reform package will survive a thorough review, because it will survive on its merits," she says in the release.
Despite her support for much of Jindal’s reform legislation (she’s against a statewide expansion of private school vouchers), Landrieu tells The Advocate in a phone interview Tuesday that Jindal’s plan of action “is not the way to be a leader of reform.”
“This is a democracy; this is not a dictatorship,” she tells The Advocate.
The Senate Education Committee began taking up Jindal’s reform measures at 9 a.m. today. The hearing was still in progress when this blog was published late Thursday morning.
MAY 22 This post was written the day after the second line shooting in NOLA, by Brentin Mock. Mock is a friend of Deb "Big Red" Cotton, a blogger who was shot in the back and was seriously injured. It is a raw, emotional piece of writing, something the writer obviously felt he needed to get off his chest. But it raises questions that can't be easily dismissed, and might give some insight into where the source of these events truly is.
MAY 22 In this Baton Rouge Business Report post, Rolfe McCollister considers the privatization of bus service in Baton Rouge. After decades of under-funding, it is a mess, and although a tax (partially) passed last year, improvement hasn't happened yet. McCollister apparently feels it is time to let private business get in on the transit business.
MAY 22 This post on Bayou Buzz by Jeff Crouere urges the defeat of a bill that would grant modest pay increases over the next several years to the state's judges and clerks of court. The state is in no position to fund pay hikes, Crouere argues, with the pay increases costing a total of $9 million over several years. It sends the wrong message to the (proverbial) hard-working people of Louisiana, he says.
MAY 22 The Advocate reports here that State Treasurer John Kennedy is complaining about a meeting of the corporation that oversees the state's tobacco settlement. The Governor wanted it restructured, and he has some support, but not a lot. The corporation agreed with his plan, but Kennedy didn't, and it appears that the meeting was noticed in a manner completely different than that of all previous meetings. Kennedy's given to hyperbole, but in this case the fish don't smell too fresh.
MAY 22 In this Advocate story, Carencro Police Chief Carlos Stout says the recent federal indictment of a strip club owner is all wrong. The indictment alleges that drugs and prostitution went on with impunity because club staff made arrangements with "local" police. Stout says it never happened, and while his cops do work security in the parking lot, they're not allowed inside.
MAY 22 This amusing post in DIG Baton Rouge recounts an ad that ran on Craig's List recently; the advertiser was seeking tenants for a Beauregard Town house. He knew his market, and wrote an ad that the most ironical hipster couldn't resist. Apparently, he really did know his market, because the ad worked like a charm.
MAY 22 In this post in The Lens, Mark Moseley comments on the rhetoric Gov. Jindal employed in trying to save his tax "reform" package. One interesting point concerns Jindal's use of his brother, Nikesh, in a little story. Nikesh left Louisiana because of his inability to get a decent job, the story goes, but the story won't hold water: Nikesh lives in DC, which has an income tax level comparable to Louisiana, Moseley says. If income taxes caused the dismal situation, it should exist in DC too. Right?
MAY 22 This post by columnist John Maginnis traces the trajectory of the bill that would fund construction at community and technical colleges -- and bypass the Board of Regents and traditional higher ed funding mechanisms. Sure, it will bust the legislature's self-imposed debt limit, but some leges feel that there's more need (because there is more growth) in the community and technical college area than in the university area, he says.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.