Louisiana Association of Educators offers olive branch to Governor

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana Association of Educators is offering an olive branch to the Jindal administration. This comes on the heels of Friday's court ruling against the state's teacher reform plan in north Louisiana.

The Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) says they have been fighting a three year war to stop the unconstitutional state teacher reform package which was initially drawn up in 2011 and passed in the 2012 legislative session.

Debbie Meaux is the newly elected president of the LAE. She says the reforms are making a teacher's job even harder.

"Teachers are experiencing major chaos right now. I have recently come out of the class room, and last year, even though I worked in a parish that was probably ahead of the curve, we experienced a lot of instability a lot of insecurity and we were not sure at all what was being asked of us," said Meaux.

Now they say it's time to work with the administration and Department of Education to fix Act1; that's the short name for the Education Reform Plan the court deemed unconstitutional.

"Look, we keep throwing out the opportunity for the Governor to work with us. It's up to the Governor to change his particular tune. I know that we have been consistent in terms of our willingness to work for the betterment of the class rooms," said LAE Executive Director Michael Walker Jones.

Just last week, the court struck down the way teachers are evaluated. Other issues like their contracts and salaries are still up in the air.

"This happens to be another instance of where Jindal's overhaul plan, Act 1, is being struck down by the court over and over again," Meaux said.

"Here's the important thing we knew that fighting for reform in K through 12 was going to be tough. The coalition for the status quo has fought us every step of the way," said Jindal in March 2013 during an interview.

The LAE says during the time they were trying to reason with the Governor, he would demean them with a slogan "No more status quo."

"I think that is a catch phrase that the governor uses to sort of brand us negatively. I personally would like to see that evaporate and go away because we are not the status quo," Meaux said.

The LAE is meeting with the Department of Education Wednesday.

The Department of Education released the following statement:

"The union is doing what unions do – protecting jobs. The procedures under Act 1 were drafted carefully in order to comply with the U.S. and Louisiana constitutions, and in order to protect every kid's right to have a great teacher."

Governor Jindal issued the following statement today regarding the Louisiana Association of Educators' press conference on Act 1:

"We're always willing to work with stakeholders to improve education in Louisiana. We continue to work with teachers, superintendents, principals and school board members to make sure we have a great teacher in every classroom. Act I is overwhelmingly supported by the public and it is instrumental in improving education for our kids.

"We believe the judgment from last week's case will be set aside because it was rendered without regard to the legal requirements for challenging the constitutionality of a law. The procedures contained in Act 1 fully comply with state and federal due process, which will be proven when the case is properly retried or, ultimately, on appeal. These reforms are constitutional and will continue improving Louisiana schools for children and families across our state."

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