Thursday, April 10, 2014

Elected Superintendent Bill Advances

The House Education Committee made a good decision Wednesday by advancing two bills by Rep. Harrison that could return the position of State Superintendent to a statewide elected position. One of the bills, HB 125 would provide for a constitutional amendment allowing a vote of the people to make the position elective. The other bill, HB 127 would allow the legislature to make the position elective by a two thirds vote of both houses of the legislature. Both bills passed after a long debate in the Education Committee.

Harrison told the committee that he prefers HB 125 because constitutional amendment legislation cannot be vetoed by the governor. Jindal has made it clear that he does not support an elected state superintendent and his veto of HB 127 is considered likely should it be approved by the legislature.

This is Lottie Beebe's facebook comment on this bill and another bill by Rep. Smith to require charter schools to  give certified teachers preference for teaching positions. 
"Can't believe HB 124 offered by Representative Pat Smith was rejected by the House Education Committee. Representative Smith's bill that would hold Charter schools to the same standards as traditional schools --requiring certification-- was struck down. State Superintendent of Education White spoke in opposition of the bill. White's action further supports the need to elect a state superintendent of education--a bill (HB-125) that was introduced by Representative Harrison. A state superintendent of education should embrace minimum standards that are required of our traditional public school teachers. He should advocate for certified,highly qualified educators and recommend programs that incentivize teacher education programs as fewer individuals are selecting the education profession as a career. Instead, White reinforces the concept that credentials and certifications don't matter! I spoke in support of Representative Smith's HB"
Lottie Beebe

John White opposed the Smith bill to hire certified teachers in charters. White has made it clear that he favors non-certified persons like TFA types and guys like "Lefty" Lefkowith for important education positions.

Landry Does it Again

Opponents of the two bills providing for an elected superintendent included Rep. Nancy Landry of Lafayette. She said that the present system of electing most of the members of BESE who then appoint the State Superintendent is a better plan because it prevents conflict between top education leaders. Landry apparently did not see anything wrong with the fact that the Jindal dominated BESE appointed a person who did not even have the credentials to be an assistant principal in Louisiana!  In fact when discussing the need for qualifications for the superintendent, she spoke against an amendment requiring a Masters plus 30 degree and 10 years in education supervision. Landry said "How can you expect anyone who has been in education that long to be willing to make the reforms that are needed." I wonder if she would think her doctor no longer competent to use modern medicine after only 10 years of practice?

Landry went on to made a bogus case that teacher unions would have undue influence in the election of the state superintendent because they could make huge contributions to the campaign. What a huge distortion! The truth is that rich corporate donors like Michael Bloomberg from New York and rich Louisiana businessman Lane Grigsby basically bought most of the BESE seats this last election with their huge contributions. While big business donated hundreds of thousands to several races, LAE and LFT each donated at most $2,500 to a few races. Landry tried to imply that NEA affiliate, LAE had donated huge amounts by referring to national political action contributions of NEA giving the impression that those had gone to BESE candidates. Landry's grandstanding and distortion of teacher union influence reminded many of her attacks on teachers who tried to testify two years ago against the Jindal destruction of teacher rights that were included in Act 1. Landry wanted the teachers testifying against Act 1 to tell the committee about whether they had obtained leave to go to the legislature.

It is amazing that anti public education legislators like Landry are still attempting to create an image of "evil" and powerful teacher unions holding back progress in education. They create this smokescreen  as the true powers dominated by big business continue their destruction of public education and the teaching profession! As Landry made her bogus claims and lauded the wonderful progress made by the passage of Act 1 and Act 2 (both of which have been declared unconstitutional), many of us in the audience thought about the demoralization of the teaching profession created by the VAM, the COMPASS,  the CCSS, the proliferation of predatory charters and vouchers and the damage yet to be wrought to public education by PARCC. This is what Landry sees as "great progress".

It was good to see the committee approve both Harrison bills over the objections of Landry and LABI!

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