Jindal’s education overhaul awaits only his signature
The House of Representatives Thursday approved minor Senate changes to two bills designed to overhaul public education in the state, the last hurdle to clear before Gov. Bobby Jindal signs them into law. A major victory for Jindal, who vowed immediately after his re-election to make school reform his top priority, the bills make it tougher for teachers to get tenure and create a statewide voucher program for public school children to attend private schools. The latter measure is likely to drastically expand the state’s charter school system.
Over the objections of teachers’ unions and thousands of teachers who have been converging on the Legislature in recent days, the House voted 60-43 on the tenure bill and 60-42 on the voucher bill.
In its just-released “A Final Perspective on Education Reform,” below is what the Council for a Better Louisiana had to say after the House vote, which took place around noon Thursday:
In a way, you have to feel sorry for the average citizen trying to understand just what the passage of the two major tenets of the governor’s education reform package really means. Supporters hailed it as a new day for public schools in Louisiana. Opponents countered with black “judgment day” t-shirts and suggested the destruction of public education is at hand.
CABL clearly puts itself in the first category. We see the passage of these reforms as a huge opportunity to significantly transform public education in Louisiana, but we also realize that opportunities must be seized to be successful, and that requires leadership.
First, to those mourning the imminent death of public education, that’s simply not true. Whether certain groups want to admit it or not, public education in Louisiana has been broken for a long time. These reforms don’t respond by killing it. Instead they help hasten the change that is needed if it’s to survive in a way worth keeping.
Let’s be honest, hundreds of thousand of kids are not going to wake up tomorrow and leave public schools to enroll in private schools. Teachers aren’t going to be joining the unemployment rolls in droves because of possible loss of tenure. And charter schools are not going to take over the universe. But that’s what the promoters of “judgment day” would have you believe.
On the other hand, the reforms aren’t a panacea, either. The passage of this legislation in-and-of-itself won’t save our public schools. What the reforms do, however, is give school leaders new tools to do things differently and put the right teacher in every classroom. But they’re just tools, and if superintendents and principals don’t embrace the new authority and flexibility they’re being given, and if school boards don’t focus on improving student achievement at every level, then the reforms by themselves are still not enough.
Are the reforms perfect? Of course not. Reform measures are seldom perfect and they’re always a work in progress. That shouldn’t scare us. What should scare us is doing anything that resembles maintaining the status quo. The opponents of reform would have people believe that we shouldn’t do anything until we “get it right.” Translation: we shouldn’t do anything.
Yes, these reforms are big. In fact, in an environment where the word reform is bandied around a lot, they’re probably bigger than most people realize. But that’s good. Louisiana needs big reform in public education. Despite the rhetoric, it’s not doomsday. But following the lead of the doomsayers might very well have been.
To post a comment, please log into your IND account. If you do not have an account, click the "register" button to create one. Facebook comments can be used as an alternative to creating an account at theIND.com.
AUG 22 Blogger Robert Mann is writing about the so-called Edmonson Amendment in this post, and he's not a fan. If Bobby Jindal really does support a "gold standard" of ethics he would have done something - or even said something - and yet he has not, Mann says.
AUG 22 Crazy Crawfish is blogging about the (interesting) incident of the state Education Department's website being out of commission earlier this week. It was reported (with heavy implications) in two local media outlets, and Crawfish feels the stories would have been better had the reporters done a little investigation instead of just printing what they were told.
AUG 22 Blogger Tom Aswell has some advice for state troopers who plan on making any public comments or challenges to the Jindal administration: don't do it. He's telling the story of one trooper who dared to challenge Commander Mike Edmonson's buddy and paid the price for it.
AUG 22 Columnist Clancy DuBos is writing about the upcoming elections in this post on Gambit. The field for local and federal offices has its share of old guys, he tells us, although mostly he's talking about Edwin Edwards.
AUG 22 Columnist Jim Beam is talking about the Office of Group Benefits in this post; that's the office that handles the money collected from state employees to pay their benefits. The OGB reserve fund has been reduced by half in the last year, and the Jindal administration keeps saying that's a good thing - but that's like telling a kid that castor oil is good, Beam says.
AUG 22 Columnist James Gill is writing about dueling efforts over the killing of animals; on one side is a lady trying to avoid the euthanizing of stray cats and on the other is a camp of folk who feel that there are enough black bears in Louisiana for us to start killing them for fun.
AUG 22 One could assume that nobody (teachers included) likes it when politicians tell them how to do their job. So what do teachers think about Common Core? Blogger Michael Deshotels is examining some responses from teachers who were asked. (Spoiler alert: none of these comments will be used in a Common Core marketing campaign.)
AUG 22 This post on The Hill is commenting upon the latest round of "that candidate is the worst person in the world" ads that are running in Louisiana's Senate race. This round takes aim at Bill Cassidy, the physician/Congressman who is challenging Mary Landrieu, and lists all the votes he has cast that hurt veterans.
AUG 21 Tom Aswell is telling us about another "efficiency" contract the state has signed. This one is paying a consultant (i.e. someone with a briefcase from out of town) $140 an hour, plus tens of thousands in air fare. The agency on the receiving end of this tender care? The DMV. Well -- that's working great, then.
AUG 21 Columnist Stephanie Riegel is writing about the scandal that has rocked the LSU Alumni Association (to wit, the executive director's "girlfriend" also was his employee; when they "broke up" he started paying her, with alumni money, to keep her mouth shut). In particular, she's looking for some lessons to learn from the mishigas.
AUG 21 This post on The Lens brings us up to date on the ongoing process of populating the levee board that will decide if the so-called Big Oil lawsuit will move forward. Gov. Jindal has done his best to put the kibosh on the suit by removing pro-suit members, but the process of replacing them is not simple, Bob Marshall tells us.
Read the Flipping Paper!
Click Here for the Entire Print Version of IND Monthly