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Educators will recall decisions made by lawmakers

LFT President Steve Monaghan speaks on the capitol steps April 4.

UPDATE: The Senate passed both HB 974 and HB 976 on Wednesday night and sent them to the House of Represenatives for concurrence. On Thursday, the House passed both bills and sent them to Gov. Jindal for his signature. Complete details will be coming in the next LFT Legislative Digest.

(Baton Rouge – April 4, 2012) As senators prepared to vote on key elements of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s radical education agenda, LFT President Steve Monaghan promised that educators will not forget how their elected leaders voted on the bills.

“I am reminded of the phrase ‘Total Recall,’” Monaghan said. “Teachers and school employees will long remember the actions of the legislature and Governor Jindal. And, as the session inevitably winds its way to June 4th, every educator will clearly recall the actions of our elected leaders. Some will be thanked, while others will face a much different response.

Speaking at an event jointly sponsored by the Louisiana Association of Educators and the LFT, Monaghan said that educators are particularly concerned about two bills, HB 974 and HB 976, that have been steamrolled through the legislative process.

“These bills represent the most radical redefinition of public education, and the most extreme attack on the teaching profession, in Louisiana history,” Monaghan said. “They were conceived and drafted without respect for the expertise of educators. Rather, they were apparently launched to satisfy an ideological agenda and political aspirations. They were not launched to build upon successful education reform based on the available science and research.”

Addressing the crowd of teachers and public school supporters on the capitol steps, Monaghan said that time is far too short to list all the flaws in these bills.

One of them, HB 976, will use the redirection of MFP funds to virtually abolish public education. It diverts tax dollars to largely unaccountable private and religious schools, virtual schools, home schools, and charter schools created by corporations, businesses and industry providers.

The other bill, HB 974, will base almost all personnel decisions on a controversial, unproven new teacher evaluation system. Everything from salaries to termination will be determined by a system that is causing major problems in other states.”

In the process, Monaghan said, local school boards will have most of their authority stripped. Board members elected by the public will lose the power to make hiring and firing decisions, or to guarantee the accountability of charter schools.

“We know that the governor is demanding rapid passage of his agenda, and we recognize that the power of his office,” Monaghan said. “But when we assess the results of this legislative session, many who have been awakened by the poisoned process and the flawed policies will recall how each member voted. It will all come down to recall, a total recall, of what is happening now. And, the word ‘recall’ may take on a different meaning than simply remembrance.”

Supporters of public education braved storms to visit the capitol on April 4.

Also speaking at the event were LAE President Joyce Haynes, St. Tammany Federation of Teachers and School Employees President Elsie Burkhalter and Louisiana AFL-CIO President Louis Reine. Speakers also included NEA Executive Committee member Joyce Powell and Mississippi Education Association President Kevin Gilbert.