Teachers Respond to HB Approval - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Teachers Respond to HB Approval

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Hundreds of teachers and school employees have amassed on the steps of the state Capitol as a political battle over teacher job security continues.

The Senate Education Committee is the focal point of debate Thursday. The panel is taking up its version of legislation to expand a state-funded voucher program for private school tuition, increase charter schools and diminish seniority and tenure protections for teachers. A House panel approved similar measures Wednesday. The package is being pushed by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

The Louisiana Association of Educators responded to the House panel approvals on Thursday with the following statement:

BATON ROUGE, LA - Early Thursday morning, the House Education Committee pushed through major bills that stand to dismantle Louisiana's public education system.

"It's a sad day for Louisiana public school students," said LAE President Joyce Haynes. "In my nearly 40 years in education, I've never seen the democratic process torn apart like this. I'd like to hear the governor's reasoning for moving these bills through the committee so outrageously fast."

After more than 16 hours of testimony, a majority vote was obtained to pass House Bills 974 and 976 out of committee. HB 974 consists of punitive changes in state requirements surrounding teacher certification, salaries, seniority and tenure, and calls for the elimination of the minimum state salary schedule for teachers and education support professionals. It also calls for a dismissal process for teachers based on the flawed method of teacher evaluation brought forth in ACT 54. HB 976 exempts private, parochial and charter schools from the same accountability measures that other schools receiving public dollars must follow. The same majority voted to scrap more than 100 amendments to HB 976 without giving opponents on the committee a chance to debate them. Educators across the state are deeply disappointed in Governor Jindal for denying the main stakeholders input on these career-altering changes.

"The governor and his proponents on this committee sold out Louisiana students for their big business ties," said Haynes. "I was speechless to see the rules changed in the middle of the game."

HB 974 and HB 976 now move to the full Louisiana House of Representatives for vote. Companion bills will be brought before the Senate Education Committee later in the morning on Thursday and educators plan to be at the Capitol in full force once again.

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