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|An aggressive education agenda|
Gov. Bobby Jindal couldn't have picked a more appropriate event at which to present his plan to reform public education in Louisiana than at a gathering of the state's most powerful business lobby.
Thus it occurred at the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry's annual meeting Tuesday that Jindal laid out a broad overview of his public education reform plan, which will take center stage during the first legislative session of Jindal's second term in office. The governor took office for his second, four-year term on Jan. 9. The Legislature will convene the 2012 regular session in March.
Look for Jindal to spend the next week or two touting his reform agenda. The public "campaign" got under way at the LABI meeting in Baton Rouge. Make no mistake, though, Jindal has been putting the pieces in place for months to make it possible to implement his reform policies, which most certainly will upset the public education establishment. That shouldn't surprise anyone since educators get angry anytime anyone tells them their work must improve.
The Jindal reform plan includes three key points – empower teachers, empower parents and empower school leaders. It's an aggressive, far-reaching proposal that includes far too many details to outline in this offering. Yet, a snippet of the Jindal reform plan would include ending tenure for teachers, giving parents more say so in how their children are educated, and stopping school boards from making hiring and firing decisions.
Simply put, the Jindal reform agenda would dramatically alter the manner in which public schools in Louisiana are operated. And it deserves to be seriously considered by anyone and everyone who gives two hoots about Louisiana's future.
Jindal's efforts to reshape public education got a big boost during the fall 2011 elections. It was last fall that the governor, working in conjunction with some business interests, elected enough pro-Jindal candidates to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to control it. Remember, BESE wields a great deal of power in shaping educational policies in Louisiana.
Members of BESE took office on Jan. 9, too, and their first order of real business concerned naming John White superintendent of education. Most recently the superintendent of the Recovery School District in New Orleans, White is a young man (37 years old) whose work experience includes stints at New York City schools and at Teach for America.
White's tenure at the Recovery School District in New Orleans has received mixed reviews. Let's be honest with ourselves, though. Considering the performances of public schools in New Orleans over the past three-plus decades, could anyone other than Jesus Christ work wonders and turn around the public schools in the Big Easy in a year or two?
When the time arrives for White to relinquish the state superintendent post, he'll look back and ponder one or two points. He'll either have thoroughly enjoyed serving as state superintendent or he'll wonder why he ever set foot in Louisiana.
Let's hope he enjoyed his stay.