The Weekly Standard is reporting that teachers in Louisiana plan to cancel class this week in order to protest Governor Bobby Jindal’s (R) education reform proposals, which will see committee action tomorrow.
The governor’s proposals include reforms to teacher tenure, a significant school choice expansion, and changes to teacher compensation in order to reward teachers based on performance, not seniority:
And so, in response to these reforms even being considered, “at least three school districts are canceling classes and telling children to stay home to allow school employees the chance to lobby the legislature,” according to Aaron Baer, the governor’s deputy communications director.
“The reality is that action is [education reform is] needed now,” Baer says in an email. “44 percent of Louisiana’s public schools received a grade or D or F last year. Louisiana’s 4th and 8th graders ranked among the bottom in English and Math when compared to other states. In 2010 there were 230,000 students in Louisiana below grade level—one third of all students in public school.”
When one-third of all students are below grade level, the last thing public school employees should be doing is using class time to lobby the state legislature to prevent much-needed reforms. But they are joining the education unions who are descending upon Baton Rouge and are in full force to maintain lifetime job security for teachers, a compensation system that fails to reflect teacher performance, and a lack of school choice options for children.
It’s a combination that has been failing Louisiana students for too long. Jindal is working to implement significant reforms that are in the best interests of children in the state—not the demands of the adults in the system—and for that, public school teachers are leaving the classroom this week to join hands with the unions.
Naturally, taxpayers will be footing the bill for the teachers’ lobbying, since the school districts are considering these “professional development” days.
The unions will certainly be shouting about injustices to teachers and public education as they swarm the committee rooms and the halls of the legislature. Meanwhile, Louisiana’s school children will be sitting at home, wondering what prompted these additional vacation days. Sure, they might miss a lesson or two on America’s founding or long division, but they will be able to ace their next test on the politics of Big Education.