Senate committee takes up education reform

Published: Mar. 15, 2012 at 12:23 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 15, 2012 at 9:38 PM CDT
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Teachers from St. Martin, Vermilion, Caddo and Bossier parishes are at the Capitol to rally...
Teachers from St. Martin, Vermilion, Caddo and Bossier parishes are at the Capitol to rally against Gov. Bobby Jindal's education reform package.

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - For the second day in a row, angry teachers covered the steps of the State Capital. They're protesting the Governor's Education Reform package which is flying out of committees.

Teacher job security just took a hit in the Senate Education Committee Thursday. Governor Jindal also testified. So for the second day in a row, the cries of the teachers fall on deaf ears.

Teachers came in from all over the state of Louisiana to talk about education reform Thursday in the Senate Education Committee. The panel moved along a bill that eliminates seniority protections against layoffs for teachers when school systems are broke.

The measure also links job security to objective performance measures. The teachers say it is unfair; proponents claim the system is broken.

"The changes we propose today, as I said, are not a change in good education practice," said John White, Superintendent of the Department of Education. "They reflect good educational practices. They simply insist they are universal, instead of specific pockets."

Thursday's vote is another thumbs-up on Jindal's overall education reform package. A key element in this effort is the ability to get rid of under-performing teachers by stripping away protections teachers have enjoyed for decades.

"The reality is that antiquated personnel practices remain in many, many school districts across the system," said White. "I'm sure you will hear a lot through today and in many cases run in contrast to the area many schools I named before."

Teachers Unions are frustrated because they say they are not getting a fair shake so far.

"Just as were redefining education in the State of Louisiana right now without a thorough public hearing, we're gonna redefine what democracy means in the State of Louisiana," said Steve Monaghan, Louisiana Federation of Teachers.

The teachers standing on the steps of the Capital are hoping the legislature will hear their voices. Many of whom were criticized for taking a day off to protest, especially with the LEAP test coming next month.

"I think it shows solidarity to the teaching community," said Johnathan Royer, a protesting teacher. "I think its great teachers unite, regardless of their parish. We unite on the Capitol steps to show not necessarily opposition with what we want out opinions reflected."

The panel is now debating the statewide voucher program. That is a bill to let low to moderate income families with kids in low performing schools to move them to private schools.

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