Friday, April 19, 2013

Jindal Tries to Resurrect Act 1

Dear Educator:  Correction from prev., The Ed Comm Meeting starts at 9:00 am
Next Wednesday April 24 at 9:00 AM could be the most important day of the legislative session for teacher issues.  If you care about the future of the Education profession, you should contact the members of the House Education Committee about several important bills that are scheduled to be heard, especially if you live and vote in any of their districts!  (Click here to go to the Ed Committee web site where you can get the email address of members by clicking on each name.) This committee determines what bills will go to the full House of Representatives. The membership of this committee was carefully stacked in favor of Governor Jindal when it was formed last year. But things have changed for the Goverrnor (Approval rating down to 38%) and educators may have a chance to talk sense to their legislators who serve on this critical committee. Do not write any of them off yet!

The following bills are very bad for teachers and one is bad for school boards. I hope you will ask them to defeat the following bills which will mandate most of the legislation passed by Jindal as part of Act 1, last year. These were all ruled unconstitutional by district court because the legislature is only allowed to have one subject in a bill. So now, by putting these issues in different bills, they may succeed in making these new laws constitutional. Here they are:

HB 478 by Champagne takes away all teacher seniority in the event of a layoff and ranks teachers according to the new Act 54 evaluation and the VAM. This bill could destroy the careers of some experienced teachers who have previously been evaluated to be effective under the old system. VAM is not reliable! (See the 5 minute video)

HB 596 by Carter removes all school board powers relative to hiring and dismissal of employees. In addition to limiting the powers of elected board members this bill removes the right of a teacher to have numerous personnel matters reviewed by their School Boards. A teacher or an administrator could be involuntarily transferred to the "boonies" and would have no recourse over this and many other personnel matters.

HB 644 by Whitney establishes merit pay based on the Act 54 evaluation as part of state law. I would not want to have my salary dependent on this erratic system from year to year. It would also freeze the salaries of any teachers who have the bad luck to be rated just one time as ineffective by the VAM.

There are four more bills on the agenda that I believe should be supported by educators and school boards:(Please ask legislators to vote "yes" on these).

HB 160 by Reynolds delays implementation of the Act 54 evaluation system and the use of VAM for rating teachers for one year. This year would amount to a non-binding trial for the system. The bill would also require that the VAM portion be approved by the Education Committees of the legislature before being applied. Right now the VAM is erratic and unrealiable in rating teachers. I don't think it can ever be made to work but I sure don't want it ruining teacher's careers this year because of flaws!

HB 115 by James allows parent petitions to require failing schools run by the RSD to be restored to their local school boards. This is the reverse trigger legislation. What a great idea!

HB 230 by Pope corrects the problem of kindergarten children in satisfactory school zones being subject to vouchers. This is a loophole that needs to be closed.

HB 466 by Havard keeps the same school grading system that was in effect in the 2011-2012 school year. Many school systems have calculated that White's new formula for calculating school grades could lower some schools' letter grades by one or two letter grades this year even if the school performs exactly the same as last year.

Remember if you want to read the bill, just click on the bill number and you will be taken to the bill text.

Important tips:
All emails should first state who you are and the fact that you are an educator who lives in that Representative's district. Always be polite and professional. Emails should be in your own words, not a "canned" message. Get your message in to committee members before 9:00 am Wednesday, April 24!
Mike Deshotels


Anonymous said...

Thank you for indirectly mentoring this educator and for teaching me how to fight back effectively; (after getting the venting out of the system) learning how to channel written expression in what will hopefully be a productive way. Hope is powerful...we must not lose that.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Mike, for this clear explanation of what is going on. I will work to motivate family and friends, especially educators, to action!

Mary A. Washington, still LAEproud

Anonymous said...

click on link to streamline a letter to the ed committee

G B said...

Ah, Rayne Martin resurfaces [I posted about her in 2010]. Thanks for the inside story #3; it made my day.