Is This The Best Louisiana Democrats Can Do?

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I’ll tell you, it’s pretty depressing being a Louisiana Democrat these days.

It’s hard to believe that when I moved to this state just 13 years ago, Democrats occupied six statewide offices, including Governor, as well as both U.S. Senate seats. Since that time, the GOP has proceeded to systematically demolish the Democrats’ once-dominate position in state and local government to the detriment of Louisiana’s poor and working families.

With the election of Bobby Jindal as Governor in 2008, Republicans set about dismantling our state’s already threadbare social safety net: shuttering public hospitals and mental health facilities, cutting programs for at-risk youth, blocking Medicaid expansion – and slashed higher education spending, for good measure. And, just when progressive-minded Louisianians thought they could begin weening themselves off Prozac, Senator Mary Landrieu lost her reelection campaign in December, bringing the number of statewide offices held by the Democrats down to zero.

Team Blue Dat? More like Team Blue Period…

CONTINUE READING AT PE+CO 

House Bill 22

Prohibits penalizing public school students, teachers, schools, or school systems for students not participating in certain Spring 2015 state assessments

Filed By: Rep. Bob Hensgens

Abstract:

Prohibits penalizing a student in grades 3-8 for not taking certain Spring 2015 state assessments due to his parents’ refusal to allow him to participate. Provides that the resulting absence of assessment results for such a student shall not be factored into or negatively impact performance scores or letter grades for schools and school systems or a teacher’s evaluation rating, and prohibits penalizing schools, school systems, and teachers in any other way.

Present law provides for the La. Competency-Based Education Program, including the implementation of statewide standards for required subjects and the La. Educational Assessment Program (LEAP). Requires standards-based assessments for required subjects to be implemented by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and administered in at least grades 3 through 11. Provides that such assessments be based on state content standards and rigorous student achievement standards comparable to national student achievement levels. Further requires that the rigor of such assessments shall at least compare to that of national achievement tests. Specifies that beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, the standards-based assessments in English language arts and math shall be based on nationally recognized content standards.

Proposed law retains present law and prohibits penalizing a student in grades 3-8 who does not take the English language arts and math assessments in the Spring of 2015 due to his parents’ refusal to allow him to participate. Provides that the resulting absence of assessment results for a student shall not be factored into or negatively impact performance scores or letter grades for schools and school systems or a teacher’s evaluation rating, and prohibits penalizing schools, school systems, and teachers in any other manner.

Position: Oppose

This is another bill from an opponent of Common Core who is seeking to encourage the nascent “opt-out” movement being pushed by legislators who were unable to defeat the standards in the legislature last year.

See bill text here

House Bill 21

Prohibits the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education from authorizing charter schools under certain circumstances

Filed By: Rep. John Bel EdwardsE-mail

Abstract:

Prohibits the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) from authorizing certain charter schools that the local school board previously denied or placed conditions on.

Present law, relative to charter schools, authorizes various groups to form a nonprofit corporation for the purpose of proposing a charter; provides for submission of the proposed charter to the local school board or to BESE.

Present law provides that each proposal for a Type 1 or Type 3 charter school shall first be made to the local school board with jurisdiction where the school is to be located by submitting a written proposal. If the local school board denies the proposal, or if conditions placed on the proposal by the local school board are not acceptable to the chartering group, then the proposal may be submitted to BESE.

Present law provides that BESE shall enter into any proposed charter that it determines is a valid, complete, financially well-structured, and educationally sound proposal that offers potential for fulfilling the purposes of present law.

Proposed law retains present law but prohibits BESE from entering into a proposed charter if the proposed school would be located in a school system that, in its most recent evaluation under the accountability system, received a designation of “A” or “B” and the school board that governs the local school system previously denied or placed conditions on the same or a substantially similar proposal.

Proposed law provides for an exception to proposed law prohibition with respect to proposals that seek to convert a preexisting school that received a designation of “F” or that seek to create a school that would predominantly enroll students with exceptionalities as defined in present law except gifted or talented students.

Position: Oppose

This bill is nearly identical to a bill that Rep. Edwards filed last year that died in committee. As I said last year, just because a school system received a designation of “A”, “B”, or “C” doesn’t mean it is necessarily meeting the needs of all of its students. BESE should not be prohibited from taking the steps it deems necessary to provide children with educational options.

See bill text here