Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal is moving ahead with education reform--but it isn't without controversy.
Later this week, on Wednesday and Thursday, education committees in both houses of the state legislature will be considering the governor's proposed package. The reforms include moving toward a voucher program, eliminating teacher tenure programs, and changes in teachers' pay.
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.
Canceling class "will allow teachers to travel to Baton Rouge for hearings on Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to make sweeping changes in public schools," the Baton Rouge Advocate reports.
But the teachers are going to protest, not merely to hear the legislature debate the reforms. And they are going to the state capital with union support:
Leaders of the state’s two largest teacher unions, who oppose most of the governor’s plan, say they expect significant turnouts this week, primarily to protest the possibility of fast action on bills that they say are seriously flawed.
The teachers are canceling class under the pretense of "professional development" days, though "Those who opt not to travel will be expected to work at school on improving their professional skills that day."
"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."