WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, SportsSenate Committee passes education reform bill and voucher program

Senate Committee passes education reform bill and voucher program

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Despite multiple teacher protests at the Capitol, Gov. Bobby Jindal's education reform bills continue to move through the Louisiana Legislature.

Governor Jindal's Education Reform package cleared another hurdle Thursday. The Senate Education Committee unanimously approved the Governor's proposed teacher tenure bill HB 974.

The bill cleared Senate Education without objection from any of the seven members. The bill tinkers with the local superintendents and principals, as well as school boards. It dumps seniority and makes school teacher job security directly related to student achievement. The debate was spirited.

"I'm desperate...I'm voting for this package," said Senator Jack Donahue, Republican from Mandeville on the Senate Education Committee. "I can't wait to get it out of here, get it to the floor of the Senate, get it passed, get it in the state and when it doesn't work, let's work together and try and fix it where it doesn't work. But I just don't see the status quo."

"It's a matter of where's the research? Because we are dealing with the most precious commodities there are," said Mike Walker with the Louisiana Association of Educators. "That's is the lives of our children and every time we make a decision I must also, we must always be very cognizant of the votes that the students that are in front of us will have to suffer through; whatever piece of legislation regulation or  rules that we impose."

Another bill passed out Thursday establishes a statewide private school voucher program and paves the way for easier creation of Charter schools. Both bills go to the Senate floor next week.

Neither bill was amended in Thursday's meeting. If Jindal allies can win passage of the bills without amendments on the Senate floor, the bills could get to Jindal's desk late next week.

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