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Story Archives: Let there be no misunderstanding
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|Let there be no misunderstanding|
Gov. Bobby Jindal made it perfectly clear Monday that education reform and retirement reform shall be the focal points of the 2012 regular legislative session.
Everything else, it seems, is irrelevant.
At the onset of his remarks in a less than lengthy speech to mark the opening of the regular session, Jindal touted his administration's accomplishments since taking office in January 2008. You've heard them before – ethics reform, tax relief for individuals and the business community and an improved environment for businesses to do business in Louisiana.
From there, Jindal delved into a rather fiery talk about education reform and the importance of revamping the state retirement system (s), two issues the administration has talked up since the first of the year.
Jindal made a compelling argument during his appearance in the House chamber for why waiting much longer in bringing about major changes in K-12 public education was unacceptable. Every single child in Louisiana – regardless of a child's socio-economic background – deserves an opportunity to get a great education to prepare for adulthood. That's what Jindal says, and if that means turning the educational establishment on its proverbial ear, so be it.
Jindal didn't actually frame his remarks in such a strident tone, but the message was clear – the status quo isn't working and it's time to make a change. He has test scores and school rankings on his side to prove it.
The fact that Jindal has encountered stiff opposition to his plans to reform public education tells us those plans represent a stark contrast to how public schools have operated in Louisiana for years. If those plans entailed more of the same as well as more money for the education community, we wouldn't hear a whimper from the educational establishment, though the teacher unions would find fault in anything a Republican governor proposed. It's in their blood.
If you've harbored any doubt that Jindal's education reform measures are vehemently opposed, look no further than what educators in St. Martin and Vermillion parishes have planned for later this week.
Instead of remaining in the classroom to prepare students for those important LEAP (Louisiana Educational Assessment Program) tests, which are scheduled for March 20, educators from St. Martin and Vermillion have been granted permission to spend Thursday at the capitol to lobby state lawmakers. Meanwhile, some senior high school students across the state will be taking the Graduation Exit Exam (GEE) in the not-too-distant future.
That raises a question.
If administrators in St. Martin and Vermillion parishes will allow educators to skip work for a day of lobbying at the capitol, how many other school districts in Louisiana will do the same?
That some educators have chosen to deprive children of a day of instruction just days prior to very important testing sends a terrible message to the children they're supposed to educate.
There's no other way to say it.
Yet, all of the bellyaching we'll hear over the next few weeks about education reform will pale in comparison to the uproar we'll witness once the Legislature digs into retirement reform. Mark my word.
For now, though, education reform is the order of the day.
And as Jindal made it clear Monday, it is priority No. 1.