03/05/2013

Judge throws out Louisiana's education reform package

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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has suffered another setback in his efforts to ram through his agenda of vouchers and anti-teacher reforms. On March 4, state District Judge R. Michael Caldwell ruled that Jindal's education package changing teacher tenure and salary laws was unconstitutional because it bundled too many items that should have been separated out.

In November, state District Judge Timothy Kelley ruled the state's voucher program was unconstitutional. (See earlier story.) Both decisions were the result of lawsuits filed by the Louisiana Federation of Teachers. (See related story for background.)

"Judge Caldwell's decision upholds the rule of law in Louisiana and should be a wake-up call to so-called reformers determined to ram through top-down dictates that undermine the voice of educators and public schools at all costs," AFT president Randi Weingarten says. "Breaking laws has consequences."

Jindal has said he will appeal the ruling. The state Supreme Court is already scheduled to hear arguments in the state's appeal of the November voucher decision. LFT president Steve Monaghan is urging state lawmakers to take up the issue of education reform—and do it right this time—during their session that begins in April. "Legislators will have an opportunity to remedy what was done very, very poorly in the last session," he says.

Weingarten adds that Louisiana needs to develop education reforms with teachers. "The best way to develop legislation that will actually improve teacher quality and student achievement is to work collaboratively with teachers, who are in the classrooms every day and are closest to the students," she says. "States and school districts that recognize the importance of teacher input have developed innovative, smart education reforms that are making a difference for all students." [Dan Gursky, AFT press release, Times-Picayune]

March 5, 2013