Jindal "went too far," LFT tells high court

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(New Orleans – September 5, 2014) An attorney for the Louisiana Federation of Teachers told the State Supreme Court today that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration “went too far” in pressing for adoption of his signature education overhaul in 2012.

At issue is whether or not Act 1 of 2012, the so-called “teacher talent act,” violates a constitutional ban on bundling multiple objects in one legislative bill.

A district court has ruled three times that all or part of Act 1 illegally “logrolled” the act by amending and reenacting nine statutes and enacting two entirely new statutes. LFT General Counsel Larry Samuel argued that lawmakers were hustled into passing the bill without being able to approve its individual elements.

“The only way to put it is that they couldn’t have passed any of these objects as single bills,” Samuel said. When lawmakers are faced with so many objects in one bill, he said, “that gives them an up or down, all or nothing kind of situation.”

“They went too far,” Samuel said of the Jindal administration’s strategy in passing Act 1 of 2012.

Arguing for the Jindal administration, attorney Jimmy Faircloth told the high court that, in the case of Act 1, the single object rule should by “broadly applied.”

Everything in the act, Faircloth said, is aimed at changing the way teachers are hired and measured.

Act 1 tied teacher salaries, tenure, promotions and termination to a new evaluation system. It changed the way school boards contract with superintendents, altered the general powers of school boards, delegated new authority to principals and superintendents and mandated different reduction-in-force policies.

The act represents “a paradigm shift in public education,” Faircloth said. “It makes perfect sense to alter the structure so the new metric works.”

Following the hearing, LFT President Steve Monaghan said the Federation’s disagreement with Act 1 is as valid today as when he testified against the bill in committee.

“Our arguments have not diminished with time or place,” he said. “They were just as strong and clear in 2012 as they are today. Act 1 was the product of logrolling and was steam rolled through the legislative process in clear violation of the Louisiana constitution. The trial judge agreed with our position three times. We’re hopeful that Louisiana’s highest court will concur. In any regard, what happened during the 2012 legislative process must never happen again.”