Each year Louisiana recognizes extraordinary students through the Student of the Year awards program, and today the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) released the names of the 18 regional finalists who will compete for the state title. The 18 regional finalists include one 5th grade, 8th grade, and 12th grade student from six regions and represent public and non-public elementary, middle, and high schools across Louisiana. The finalists and state winners for each of the three grades will be honored on April 18 during a ceremony in Baton Rouge.

Congratulations to these exemplary students, as well as their families, teachers, principals, and districts. Through their academic success, community service, leadership, and character, these students are the best evidence of the promise of our next generation and reinforce the critical work that is taking place in our schools and classrooms each day.

Students are selected based on criteria that measure academic achievement, leadership skills, character, and service to their schools and communities. All public schools, as well as approved non-public schools, were asked to submit one candidate from their student body to compete at the district level. District-level winners advance to the regional competitions. Regional selection committees also use portfolios of accomplishments created by each student, along with student writing samples and interviews, to assess the communication and critical-thinking skills of each candidate. Prior to selecting the three state winners, the state selection committee will conduct interviews and review a writing sample from each of the regional finalists.

These students are not only top-notch performers, but they remind us of the extraordinary capabilities of each of our children and inspire us to work even harder to ensure we give all our students the opportunity to reach their full potential through education.

For more information on the state's Student of the Year awards program, please visit LDOE's website.


This letter to the editor send by St. Martin Parish School Board President:

I chose this venue to communicate my disdain for U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s criticism of school boards, superintendents and educators, specifically the St. Martin Parish school system, which chose to participate in the democratic process in Baton Rouge on March 15. It is unfortunate the Louisiana Legislature convened to address critical education legislation that will have lasting implications within the education community during the scheduled workday of educators and many parents and community leaders who support their efforts. Consequently, since it was apparent to participants there was a resolve to “railroad” legislation through the House and Senate Education Committees, the only recourse available was to take professional leave to address these critical, legitimate concerns outlined in proposed legislation.

How dare he chastise the education community? I am reminded of the adage: “If you live in a glass house, you shouldn’t throw stones.” Vitter questions the morals of our educators citing their lack of concern for children. Was he thinking of his wife and children and his constituents during his past indiscretions (on July 11, 2007, he issued a statement apologizing for his use of the Washington escort service and he called it a “serious sin” for which he took full responsibility)? I am sorry it has come to the point where one has to “throw stones” in an effort to wake up those who are elected to represent their constituents’ views and not the views of a governor and his followers. As president of the St. Martin Parish School Board, I would request a public apology from Vitter to all educators in Louisiana.

In closing, while the debate must occur regarding education reform, I want to remind my constituents this reform plan is not unique. It is from a master plan initiated by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group of wealthy entrepreneurs and philanthropists, who are, in my opinion, determined to privatize our health care, education and prison systems. This reform plan has been implemented in such states as New York, Florida, Tennessee and California, to name a few. The plan has failed miserably with much unrest among the residents of these states. The proposed legislation regarding education reform should be well thought out. Education is too critical to our future, so we have an opportunity to get it right.

Please join me in contacting our legislators to say NO to HB 976 and HB 974 and SB 603. Please call them at the House of Representatives (225) 342-2040 and the Senate
(225) 342-2040. Thank you.

Jimmy Blanchard

St. Martin Parish

School Board president

Check This Out!


Just another example of how the public is being kept in the dark and deceived.

This article was first posted on the new website www.educatorsforall.org. Subscribe to this website created by education researchers.

Hypocrisy at Work

The capitalist education reformers railed long and loudly about publicly elected school boards micromanaging their systems. But, the Jindal clan saw nothing wrong with their version of micromanagement.

The dirty dozen members of the House Education Committee took it upon itself to report favorably a bill that will require that local school superintendents’ contracts be rewritten, and require locally elected school boards to terminate superintendents should they fail to meet contract requirements.

However, the administration majority on the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education gave not a second thought, in December 2010, to renewing the contracts of a dozen Louisiana Recovery School District charter schools. It did so in spite of the fact that all twelve failed to meet the academic achievement goals specified in their contracts. It did so in spite of the fact that eleven of the twelve failed to meet fiscal reporting requirements of their contracts.

That same cabal included in its favorably reported bill a requirement that seniority can’t any longer be a consideration in layoff decisions.

Maybe the electorate should consider turning another of the dirty dozen’s micromanagement details on the legislature. Superintendents alone will be able to dismiss teachers with tenure without a dismissal hearing, which under current law is held before a jury of local school board members.

There is a recall process in the Louisiana Constitution.

Do such policies not constitute MICROMANAGEMENT on a grand scale?

The Governor’s chief of staff comment at the close of the committee meeting said: “...."Democracy at work"...The new Republican Democracy....explain nothing, listen to no opposition and pass the bill when they've all gone home to sleep.”

The public response to the House action is a much larger crowd of teachers and students on the Capitol grounds. Where are the parents who will see funding for their better performing schools fall as cash is skimmed into unlimited numbers of charter schools, virtual charter schools, and voucher accepting private and church schools?

Where are the aggrieved state employees being laid off as Jindal privatizes health care, retirement systems, state self-insurance programs, and prisons? Can they not see that their pain is shared?

Meanwhile the administration continues to reply to meaningful questions with evasion and half-truths. One House member suggested that when voters in a parish or city vote on a referendum to authorize a special tax for special purposes such as a teacher pay increase, the administration should not be allowed to count such funds as a reason to reduce the state share of the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP). The response from the administration is that mechanically it would make budgeting more difficult for the administration, and perhaps limit the ability of the administration to fund its ventures into its experimental “reform.”

With Louisiana ranked 34th in the nation in state share of revenue for public elementary and secondary education, the tail appears to be about wagging the dog. Among the 11 Deep South states listed in the Digest of Education Statistics Louisiana ranks 9th in the percentage of total state expenditures devoted to K-12 education at 22% of total spending by the state. Louisiana devoted a three percent smaller share of total state expenditures to education than does Alabama, four percent smaller proportion than Arkansas, 3.4% less than South Carolina and 8.8% less than Texas. Only Mississippi and Kentucky devote a smaller proportion of total state expense to their K-12 education.

Jindal continues in the effort to fiscally starve local school districts. In every budget since his first term election the 2.75 growth factor that allows for inflationary costs in the MFP has been withheld.

Support for transporting students to and from private and church schools has been shifted to the local districts, as has the state guaranteed stipends to teachers who compete for National Board Certification.

As student achievement and school performance score bars are annually increased, the funding reductions are bringing about teacher layoffs that raise teacher to pupil ratios allowing teachers less time to pay attention to individual student needs. These two state education policies combine to almost guarantee more local public schools will become wards of the state Recovery School District or that more local public school students will drain still more funds into private and church school or for-profit virtual charter schools.

Overall administration public education policy has taken a large step toward centralizing control in the state and moving the locally elected school boards further away from their Constitutionally driven place in managing public education.

While the stakeholders in Louisiana public schools are experiencing this transformation, similar stakeholders in Wisconsin, Ohio, Rhode Island and New York are arising in protest to similar capitalist education reform agendas. In Wisconsin a popular movement has forced an incumbent Republican governor in his second year to face a looming recall election. Four members of the Wisconsin legislature have already been unseated in recall elections.

Louisiana citizens must decide what is best for their children.

Don Whittinghill
Research consultant, LSBA (Louisiana School Board Association)


At the same time that Governor Jindal is supporting bills that downsize retirement benefits and increase contributions for every category of state employee he is secretly planning for his own retirement - after which he will move on to some other government retirement system while earning a monthly paycheck.

Retired teachers can no longer even substitute for one day without giving up their entire monthly retirement benefit for each month in which they substitute. This deprives children from having a qualified certified teacher in the classroom every day when their teacher is absent. It also prevents a teacher from applying her professional expertise in the employ of any state institute of learning K-12 through university level. In what other profession (engineer, architect, doctor, nurse. . .) does state law prevent them from consulting or working in any capacity part-time after retirement?

This blog was posted by Tom Aswell at http://www.Louisianavoice.org

New post on Louisiana Voice

Here’s a warm fuzzy for every state civil service worker: Jindal, buying air time to enhance his own retirement

by Tom Aswell

While he is asking state employees to contribute more, work longer and accept less in retirement benefits, Gov. Bobby Jindal has quietly filed application to purchase 2.2 years of service to beef up his own retirement benefits.

Papers filed on Jan. 4 with the Louisiana State Employee Retirement System (LASERS) to buy back the 2.2 years that would be added to his public tenure and thus, increase his public employee retirement benefits which are already based on a higher percentage than rank and file state employees.

State civil service workers presently get 2.5 percent of the averaged top three years of earnings times the number of years of service. Thus, an employee with an average income of $50,000 over three years who retires after 30 years would receive $37,500 in annual retirement income.

The governor, however, earns an additional one percent, or 3.5 percent of average income for top earnings for three years times years of service.

Moreover, while rank and file employees must work 30 years if they are 55 years of age or younger be becoming retirement eligible. The governor, lieutenant governor and state treasurer may retire at age 55 after only 12 years of service.

Jindal was appointed by then-Gov. Mike Foster as Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) in 1996, a position he held until 1998. That same year he was appointed executive director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare.

On March 5, 1999, he withdrew $15,252.46 in retirement funds from LASERS for contributions made from Jan. 9, 1996 through Feb. 16, 1998. The refund was apparently made while serving at Foster’s request as a volunteer to study how Louisiana should use its $4.4 billion share of the tobacco settlement.

Later in 1999, he was appointed by Foster as the youngest-ever president of the University of Louisiana System and in March 2001 he was nominated by President George W. Bush as Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation.

He resigned from that position in 2003 to make his first run for governor, a race that he lost to Kathleen Blanco and in 2004 he was elected to Congress where he remained until he won his first term as governor in 2007.

With the purchase of the 2.2 years, he now has a little more than 13 years as an elected and appointive official at both the state and federal levels and, provided he completes his term, will have 17 years of combined credited time on which to base his pension.

On his application form, Jindal listed among his state employment his service with DHH, the University of Louisiana System, governor and “teacher at LSU.”

Jindal has never taught at LSU.

A printout provided by LASERS shows that besides the $15,252.46 that he withdrew in 1999, he also owed interest of $26,923.89 through Jan. 4. The total due, if paid by Feb. 5, was given as $42,176.35. For the next 30 days after Feb. 5, the amount was given as $42,455.89 and $42,737.30 if paid after March 6.

The LASERS document noted that only the amount shown as “Refunded” ($15,252.46) would be credited to his account. Any interest payments are not credited and are not refundable in the event Jindal terminates state employment and requests another refund of contributions.

tomaswell | March 26, 2012 at 6:33 pm

THE HOUSE RETIREMENT COMMITTEE HAS 42 BILLS FOR CONSIDERATION AND THE SENATE RETIREMENT COMMITTEE HAS 53 BILLS FOR CONSIDERATION. You can find the bills for each committee listed by going to http://www.legis.la.gov and scrolling down the first page to the the BILLS SEARCH box and typing in Senate Retirement Committee or House Retirement Committee and click VIEW.


Quite a few educators have forwarded correspondence they have had with legislators regarding the passage of HB 974 (Tenure/teacher evaluation) and HB 976 (Vouchers)and regarding upcoming bills filed.

I am sharing two here along with my analysis of both to demonstrate how misleading, misinformed or patently false some of their comments are. I will forward this blog to both of these representatives so that they can respond in the event I have misinterpreted their e-mails. It became painfully evident to everyone listening to the live House debate that many of our representatives are not familiar with the bills they are voting on or just haven't studied them. Of course THEY AREN'T EDUCATORS!! That's why we have tried so hard to have our voices heard - usually to no avail.

If you have received e-mails from any legislators that you would like me to post here, please send to lpbharley@aol.com to expedite.

From Representative Henry Burns:

Teacher #1 said: Well, here is the response I got from Rep. Burns when I told him I didn't agree with his support:

Ms. _______:

Henry Burns is one of the few legislators who does not have a "hidden agenda." He represents over 45,000 constituents with the majority supporting education reform, seeing how our state has ranked 49th for over 30 years. We are so very blessed to live and raise our children in Bossier Parish but unfortunately all of Louisiana is not so blessed. We greatly appreciate your service. Henry has always been a staunch supporter of public education and continues to be. He fought tirelessly to have many amendments added to the education reform bill and the tenure bill that many of our Bossier Parish educators are thankful for. The bill is now on its way to the Senate. We have a long ...way to go before the final bill is voted on but again, Henry totally supports ALL of his constituents and testifies continuously that Bossier Parish has one of the best education systems in the state.

Just to share a few amendments with you, concerning teacher evaluation: the first year, if this bill passes, will be a "Test" year so that no teacher can be evaluated to be effective or ineffective. We felt this will enable any gray areas to be exposed and dealt with before the following school year. Another major victory is that our tax dollars cannot cross parish lines. This was a major concern for our Superintendent and many of us that did not want our tax dollars leaving our parish. Also, the "C" grade has been taken out of the equation seeing that the majority of vouchers will focus on D and F schools only. Please know that Henry is working very hard for us all. Education Reform is the Governor's No.1 agenda. The Governor had the votes to pass it without any amendments, but Henry kept pushing, for if he had totally worked against the administration he could not have made any progress but by working with them he and other legislators were able to address the key issues that educators had discussed with him. Every one of those issues were addressed in the amendments. He has been a voice for educators and will continue to do so. Again, the bill is with the Senate now and hopefully they will not strip any of the amendments from the bill . It is a long process so please pray for us all.

When I attended the Bossier Parish Tax summit that was held at the Bossier Civic Center Sonya Bailes, the new spokesperson for the BPSB began her presentation with this statement," If you have a good education system the businesses will come." Well this is very true and this is what we need for Louisiana so we as a state can continue to move forward.

Thank you so much for your time and again we greatly appreciate your service to our children and community.

Dodie Horton
Legislative Asst. to
State Rep. Henry Burns
District 9

Here is my response:

1. Would Rep. Burns be so kind as to provide support for his claim that a majority of his 45,000 (Bossier Parish) constituents support education reform. I would counter that the majority of his constituents don't know what this latest reform agenda has coming down the pipe or the destruction it will bring to public education.

2. Your letter says
"He fought tirelessly to have many amendments added to the education reform bill and the tenure bill that many of our Bossier Parish educators are thankful for."
I would invite all readers to visit the legislative web site at www.legis.la.gov to access a video recording of the entire proceedings of the House on March 23 where you can view Rep. Burns' participation in this debate. I just attempted to do that myself in order to provide a direct link but that video has not been posted yet. You can also go to www.followlabill.blogspot.com/ where you will see a record of the written discussion that took place during the debate of HB 976. I took the time to type significant comments by each representative and an analysis of amendments as they were addressed.

3. The writer said:
"Rep. Henry supports ALL of his constituents and testifies continuously that Bossier Parish has one of the best education systems in the state."
It is impossible in any issue to represent ALL of one's constituents. Readers can check the performance scores of Bossier Parish schools at the Louisiana Department of Education web site.

4. The writer states regarding HB 974:
"The first year, if this bill passes, will be a 'test' year so that no teacher can be evaluated to be effective or ineffective."
I reviewed the legislation and here is the TRUTH. Rep. Burns' statement is misleading and inaccurate at best. You will see that 2012 will NOT be a TEST year. Teachers will be evaluated during the year and student test scores will be analyzed so that BEGINNING with the 2013 year there will be 10% of teachers rated "ineffective" and as a result at-will employees. You can read the bill yourself - the engrossed (amended) version at this link

5. Another statement in Burns' response says:
"Another major victory is that our tax dollars cannot cross parish lines. This was a major concern for our Superintendent and many of us that did not want our tax dollars leaving our parish."
This amendment was worded to mislead the legislature and the public. The fact is that local dedicated tax millage funds WILL be used to partially pay for each voucher awarded. The funds WILL NOT be "transferred" from the district to the state for distribution and they never have been. However, the funds will be deducted from the MFP dollars awarded to each district BEFORE they are sent to the district. The word "transferred" was intended to confuse.

6. The writer says:
"Also, the 'C' grade has been taken out of the equation seeing that the majority of vouchers will focus on D and F schools only."
This is patently false and misleading. The amendment states that D and F schools will have priority over C schools. Since BESE will have sole discretion as to whom the vouchers are awarded (due to confidentiality issues) there will be little accountability. If the amendment were effective it would have said that NO C schools would be included. You can read the amendment here:

You can read all amendments and see which Representatives sponsored them at the legislative web site by typing in HB 976 in the Bill Search box. I don't see ANY amendments sponsored by Rep. Burns.

* * * *
This response was from Representative Kevin Pearson of St. Tammany Parish:

Dear _______,

Thank you for contacting me. First, I want to reassure you that teachers in St. Tammany would be least affected by any of the proposed changes if they were to pass. Our schools are near the top statewide, yet we are part of a state system in need of repair.

This legislation was drafted with the intent to impact schools in failing parishes, yet the impact has been misrepresented by some organizations for either fear of change or misunderstanding. I would never vote on legislation that would harm our local (or state) system, but I have to say that it would be my responsibility to vote on some issues if they stood to improve statewide education. Those who live in St. Tammany are very fortunate to have good schools and teachers who are committed to excellence. However, in Louisiana we also have parishes like Tensas, St. Helena, East Feliciana and others where there are considerable problems, leaving Louisiana with a 47th ranking.

Our state is suffering because of this deficiency in the system. Not only are many of our college graduates leaving the state, we are also seeing fewer big business opportunities because of this negative perception about our educational system. These underperforming schools have a negative impact on the entire state. I can assure you that the legislative proposals are not intended to change or harm a system that is in working order, but have been brought about to bring assistance to systems in need. I understand that any change can have unforeseen consequences, and for that reason I am committed to evaluating each article of legislation before making any decisions.

I truly appreciate concerns such as yours and hope that you will be able to attend the upcoming public meetings with state legislators so that we can all reach a consensus about improving the education of our children. We need to hear from our educators, and I sincerely appreciate the job that you do each day.

Because of teachers you like you, my children will have successful futures. Adam has just applied to grad school and Becca will graduate soon having a double major and a long list of achievements. Again, I am very fortunate to live in St. Tammany parish. I just wish our state had more teachers like you and those of our parish.


Kevin Pearson

1. Rep. Pearson said:
"Teachers in St. Tammany would be least affected by any of the proposed changes if they were to pass."
These bills will deeply affect ALL teachers in every school district. All one has to do is read both bills and it is crystal clear. This reform plan was originally touted as "optional" for lower performing schools and districts. That has morphed into a "Blueprint for Education" that mandates every single provision for ALL schools and districts and teachers.

2. Rep. Pearson said:
"This legislation was drafted with the intent to impact schools in failing parishes, YET THE IMPACT HAS BEEN MISREPRESENTED BY SOME ORGANIZATIONS FOR EITHER FEAR OF CHANGE OF MISUNDERSTANDING."
This is patently false. In fact, our legislators are the ones MISREPRESENTING this legislation.

3. Rep. Pearson said:
"I would never vote on legislation that would harm our local (or state) system. . . "
The record shows that Rep. Pearson DID VOTE FOR this legislation and his record of votes cast on the amendments is part of the record. Rep. Pearson sits on the House Education Committee where these bills were first introduced. During the public hearing, before all the amendments submitted for debate had been considered, it was Rep. Pearson who moved that NO MORE AMENDMENTS BE CONSIDERED. What would compel a legislator to impede the democratic process EVEN WITH REGARD TO OTHER LEGISLATORS whose job is was to seriously consider these bills before submitting for final consideration in the full House?

4. Notice that Rep. Pearson stated that Louisiana is rated 47th in the nation while Rep. Burns stated that Louisiana is rated 49th.

5. Rep. Pearson said:
"I can assure you that the legislative proposals are not intended to change or harm a system that is in working order. I understand that any chanage can have unforeseem consequences, and for that reason I am committed to evaluation each article of legislation before making any decisions."
What explains Rep. Pearson's unwillingness to consider proposed amendments?


How they voted:

Voting FOR expanding eligibility for state aid to attend private schools (61): , Mr. Speaker, and Reps. Abramson, Adams, Arnold, Badon, Barras, Berthelot, Billiot, Bishop, S., Broadwater, Burford, H. Burns, T. Burns, Carmody, Carter, Champagne, Connick, Cromer, Dove, Fannin, Foil, Garofalo, Greene, Guinn, Harris, Havard, Hazel, Henry, Hensgens, Hodges, Hoffmann, Hollis, Honore, Howard, Huval, G. Jackson, Jefferson, N. Landry, Leger, Leopold, Ligi, Lorusso, Moreno, Morris, Jay, Pearson, Ponti, Pugh, Pylant, Richardson, Robideaux, Schexnayder, Schroder, Seabaugh, Shadoin, Simon, Talbot, Thierry, Thompson, Whitney, P. Williams, and Willmott.

Voting AGAINST House Bill 976 (42): Reps. Anders, Armes, Barrow, W. Bishop, Brossett, Brown, Burrell, Chaney, Cox, Danahay, Dixon, Edwards, Franklin, Gaines, Geymann, Gisclair, Guillory, Harrison, Hill, Hunter, K. Jackson, James, Johnson, Jones, Lambert, T. Landry, LeBas, Mack, Miller, Montoucet, Morris, Jim, Norton, Ortego, Pierre, Pope, Price, Reynolds, Richard, Ritchie, Smith, St. Germain, and Thibaut.

NOT Voting (2): Reps. Lopinto, and A. Williams.


I have received proposals by a number of groups planning to sponsor recalls for several of our legislators who voted for Governor Jindal's education bills. Here is information regarding the process. I will post updates as this initiative progresses. You will need to know the name and district number of the legislators who represent you as you can only sign a recall petition for your representative/senator.

Recall Elections

No recall petition may be submitted for certification to or accepted for certification by the registrar of voters or any other official if less than six months remain in the term of office.

Once the first signature is obtained, the recall petition becomes a public record with the chairman or vice chairman as custodian. After the petition is submitted to the Registrar of Voters, the chairman or vice chairman shall no longer be the custodian.

1. Copy of recall petition is filed with SOS by chairman of recall committee.

2. The completed petition is submitted to the Registrar(s) of Voters:

Not later than 180 days after being filed with SOS.
If there are fewer than 1000 qualified electors in the voting area, the petition shall be submitted not later than 90 days after being filed with SOS.
If the final day for submitting the petition falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the deadline shall be on the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.

3. The Registrar of Voters shall certify the recall petition:

within 15 working days after it is presented to him, or
within 20 working days after it is presented to him if the voting area contains more than 50,000 registered voters.

4. The petition is forwarded to the Governor if the required number of signatures are certified by the Registrar of Voters.

5. The Governor issues an election proclamation within 15 days after he receives the certified petition from the Registrar of Voters.

Primary Election Date: the proclamation shall be issued on or before the last day for candidates to qualify in the election. (last day of qualifying)
General Election Date: the proclamation shall be issued on or before the 46th day prior to the election. (same as propositions)

6. Immediately after the issuance of the proclamation, the Governor shall publish the proclamation in the official journal of each parish where the recall election is to be held.

7. Within 24 hours after issuing the proclamation, the Governor shall send a copy of the petition and proclamation, by registered or certified mail, to the clerk of the district court for each parish in which the recall election will be held.

8. A copy of the petition and proclamation also shall be sent to the Secretary of State. (by the Governor)

9. Within 24 hours after receiving the copies, the Secretary of State shall notify all other election officials in the parish(es) where the recall election is to be held.

10. If the recall passes, the public officer is recalled and removed from office and the office is declared vacant when the election returns are certified to the Secretary of State. The vacancy is then filled as usual. The recalled official cannot be appointed to fill the vacancy.

11. If the recall fails, no recall election for the same official shall be held within 18 months from the date of the failed recall election.

For a chart showing the recent history of Recall Elections held in Louisiana, click here.

For a PDF of the Recall Petition (For All Officials Except Statewide) form, click here.

For a PDF of the Recall Petition For Statewide Official form, click here.


This post came from Mike Deshotel's blog - the link is on this page and his posts will provide more information about the RED CARD INITIATIVE. I am working on a page that will allow you to watch the live cast of the proceedings and to comment for our legislators at the same time. Stay Tuned for Follow The Bill Louisiana.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Jindal Bills on House Floor Thursday

LAE lobbyist Shane Riddle informed me this morning that HB 974 and HB 976 are scheduled for consideration on the House Floor starting at 9:00 a. m. Thursday, March 22. The debate could be extensive.

The following are my suggestions for reaching your Representative in the next 3 days. You may telephone your Representative at the capitol at 225-342-6945. They are expected to be in committee meetings during most of the day Tuesday and Wednesday, so try leaving a message asking your Rep. to return your call. Both of those days, the House floor will be in session starting at 4:00 p. m. Your best chance of reaching them would be from 4:00 p. m. on. If you have your Rep's cell number this is the best way to reach him/her. On Thursday, while they are debating, you can call them at the above number any time during the day. If you can't get through, ask the clerk to take your message to the Representative.

Let me tell you what to expect in a conversation with your Rep. if he/she is looking for an excuse to vote with the Governor. Many legislators will tell teachers that they have studied the bills carefully and they are convinced that no "good teachers" will be harmed. Also they will say that the voucher and charter impact will be minimal and will probably not affect the schools in your area. In any case, the legislator will tell you he intends to monitor the law carefully to make sure none of "his people" are hurt. All of the preceding is just a smokescreen to allow him/her to vote with the Governor.

This is my suggested argument for any educator calling his/her legislator. "Yes, we believe every teacher will be hurt because teachers will be forced to teach even more than ever to the state tests to make sure that their job is not jeopardised. This hurts teachers because teaching this way is unprofessional and demoralizing. It hurts the students because they will not get the education they deserve. Filling out multiple choice tests is not education for life."

As far as not hurting your school, any new charters or voucher schools will attempt to skim the best students away from any and all schools in their area, not just the D or F schools. By the way, it is not always true that low letter grade schools have poor teachers. Some of the most dedicated teachers teach in low letter grade schools. Those schools almost always have low letter grades because they have a high proportion of at-risk, high poverty students, not because they have bad teachers. Even in public schools serving more privileged students, with Act 54, a teacher can get a low performance score if his/her students do not "gain value" according to some formula out of Baton Rouge. So there are plenty of reasons why "good" teachers and "good" schools will be unfairly hurt by this legislation. Do not buy their bull!

It is not too late to do the Red Card Initiative described below. Sharyn Hebert wanted to give credit to teacher Pamela Stelly for designing the Red Card Initiative postcards.
Thanks to both of you!
Posted by Michael Deshotels


The House Education Committee passed HB 9764 and HB 9767 Wednesday in an 18 hour marathon session. The Capitol reported the largest group of citizens in opposition to a single bill ever recorded, the largest number of citizens who testified against the bill, and the first time ever that citizens (only teachers!)have been required to identify by what authority they were present in order to testify - i.e. personal day, sick day or professional development day.

The Constitution took a beating that day on several counts. Rep. John Bel Edwards noted that it is unconstitutional to vote on a bill that changed more than one law as BOTH BILLS DID. He also stated that it is illegal to take funds dedicated through local millages for specific purposes to be used for the state funding of vouchers. Senator Karen Carter-Peterson made a surprise visit to the meeting and excoriated the committee for their earlier vote to require teachers to identify their employment status. When Rep. Edwards moved to delete the requirement, his motion failed.

Governor Jindal's staff and the media are misleading the public into believing that these education bills will slowly wind their way through the democratic process before they receive a final vote. THESE BILLS WILL BE VOTED ON BY THE FULL HOUSE THIS COMING TUESDAY!!!

It is imperative that you call, email or visit your local representatives and then ALL REPRESENTATIVES to let them know your opposition to these bills as written. They both need SIGNIFICANT AMENDING.

Visit the legislative web site at www.legis.la.gov for contact information for all legislators.


This is a letter to legislators from a teacher in St. Tammany Parish (Louisiana State Teacher of the Year) that exemplifies the feelings of virtually every highly qualified, legal certified, experienced teacher in this state. Please send your story to every state representative before the full house vote on HB 9764 and 9767 THIS TUESDAY!!!

Dear Sirs,

I would like to explain why I am furious that the current education bill will be heard next Tuesday, a day when teachers across the state will be TESTING and may not have their voices heard. It’s bad enough that both the House Education and Senate Education Committees blasted through their bills HB 976/HB 974 and SB 603/597 in marathon sessions Wednesday and Thursday. As a close observer of the legislative process in this state (I am a high school social studies teacher) I am amazed at how efficiently our government can work when making decisions about teachers.

I am former Louisiana State Teacher of the Year (2009) with an undergraduate degree in Secondary Education, a Master’s in Student Development. I am currently finishing a doctorate in Teacher Leadership (August 2012). In the 31 years I have taught, I have always had an open classroom, and welcome any quantitative or qualitative assessment of my practice. Nobody wants to get rid of paycheck takers more than I do! However, I feel strongly that teachers, who are also citizens and voters, have the right to speak publically about the design of the new value added assessment methods, in particular the quantitative formulas that will be used to determine student growth.

Because I cannot leave the classroom to participate in events like the hearing on Tuesday, I pay my LFT dues each month. I depend upon others with educational interests to inform and represent classroom teachers like me where I cannot go. During my service year as Louisiana Teacher of the Year, I was sent not only around the state but to various events around the country to represent Louisiana teachers and to participate in the national education reform dialog. I spent a week at the DOE in Washington D.C. sharing my experiences and perspectives about appropriate evolutionary strategies that should be implemented to modernize our obsolete educational system. But now I realize that neither my experience nor my expertise was being used properly. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was merely asking for “feedback” on legislative proposals that had already been either written or adopted. I thought I was there to provide input up front. There is a difference. Instead, politicians, text book companies and university researchers were crafting educational policies behind the scenes. As a front-line implementer of educational policy and practice, I can’t imagine WHY I wasn’t sought out to help create policy.

The Value Added Assessment policies are doing NOTHING to create 21st century learning communities. These measures are counterintuitive, and do not solve the obsolescence I see every day on my school campus. Preparing students to become global citizens has nothing to do with convoluted mathematical formulas that only serve to dehumanize our kids and our teachers even more. Our modern educational system needs FLEXIBILITY not even more rigid structure.

Listen to me…I am the one in the classroom. I am the one having to look students in the eyes when they have to take yet another standardized test not written by the teachers who are charged with delivering the content.


Deborah Hohn Tonguis
“2009 Louisiana State Teacher of the Year”
STAR/Fine Arts Survey Teacher
Mandeville High School, Mandeville LA

Senate Education and House Education Committees

Here is contact information for Senate Education and House Education Committee members. You can call them through the PULS line listed on the legislative website or you can find their numbers on their individual websites. Senator Appel is NO FRIEND OF EDUCATION nor is Representative Carter - both are doing Governor Jindal's bidding in pushing this legislation through.

If you are from St. Tammany, Jack Donahue, John Schroder and Paul Hollis should be first on your list to contact - remind them that they are ELECTED BY YOU AND ARE SUPPOSED TO REPRESENT YOU!!!

Several legislators are friends of education and poised to fight for our schools and our children: Rep. Patricia Smith and John Bel Edwards. Please thank them for their efforts. Some are unknowns but are under pressure from Jindal to do his bidding.

Conrad Appel

Dan Claitor

Jack Donahue

Elbert Guillory

Eric LaFleur

Michael Walsworth
LA Senate

Mack Bodi White
LA Senate

Wesley Bishop
House of Representatives

Henry Burns
House of Representatives

Thomas Carmody
House of Representatives

Steve Carter
House of Representatives

Simone Champagne
House of Representatives

John Bel Edwards
House of Representatives

Cameron Henry
House of Representatives

Nancy Landry
House of Representatives

Jerome Dee Richard
House of Representatives

John M. Schroder
House of Representatives

Patricia Smith
House of Representatives

Paul Hollis
LA House of Representatives
Fax:(985) 871-4682

Edward Price
LA House of Representatives

Jeff Thompson
LA House of Representatives

Patrick Jefferson
LA House of Representatives

Chris Broadwater
LA House of Representatives

Rob Shadoin
LA House of Representatives

Alfred Williams
LA House of Representatives


The House Education Committee has called a meeting this coming Wednesday at 8:30. The Senate Education Committee has called a meeting the following day upon adjournment (that could mean early in the morning or at any time during the day). Both committees will hit the ground running in an effort to push Governor Jindal's Blueprint for Education through. This article explains the implications and directs you to the bills that have been filed so that you can read them yourselves.

IF THERE EVER WAS A TIME TO SHOW SUPPORT FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION AND AGAINST JINDAL'S PLAN TO PRIVATIZE EDUCATION, IT IS NOW!!! Everyone must be in Baton Rouge Wednesday, or call your local legislators and members of the House and Senate Education Committees.

I am posting this message from Mike Deshotel. You can read more about Mike at his blog by going to the following URL. Mike is a member of the Coalition for Louisiana Public Education. Please post this URL and message on your FACEBOOK pages and forward by email to every educator and friend of education you know.

Louisiana Educator: Jindal Plan Moving Now! March 14-15
Posted: 09 Mar 2012 12:56 PM PST
Legislators are telling the LAE lobbyists that the Jindal public school destruction bills will be heard first in the House Education Committee on Wednesday March 14, then in the Senate Education Committee on Thursday March 15. I also got a personal call from a Republican Senator friend who told me the same thing.

They are telling us that if we as educators care about public education we had better show up at these committee meetings in large numbers. Our professional education lobbyists for the teacher unions and School Boards Association are heavily outnumbered by the big business lobbyists. And I'm sorry to say they have millions of dollars more than we have to contribute to legislators' campaigns. What we have is numbers! Public school teachers live and vote in every legislative district in this state in large numbers. When you add our voting relatives, we should be the most powerful political force in this state! Why don't we start to exert our potential influence?
I know, it's because teachers and principals are busy preparing kids for the all important LEAP tests! I don't think I am exaggerating when I say that if the Jindal package passes intact, the public schools are in serious trouble and if you continue reading the second portion of this blog and my posts from the last two weeks you will know why.

Please talk to your colleagues now, and plan to take a personal day Wednesday or Thursday, March 14 and 15 to come to the Capitol and show your concern about this disastrous plan. Educators should read the bills carefully and some should plan to testify in the committees. Every educator should go to the legislative web site, get the email address of your Representative and Senator now and send an email immediately indicating your opposition to these bills. I am including two sample emails, but I would expect the creative educators out there to customize our own emails to say exactly how you as an individual feel. Now is the time do do something important for your profession.
Here are the bills we expect to be heard, even though we have not yet received an official agenda. In the House Education Committee starting at 8:30 a.m. March 14,
HB 974 http://legis.la.gov/billdata/streamdocument.asp?did=781015 and HB 976 http://legis.la.gov/billdata/streamdocument.asp?did=781066 will be heard. Please click on the bill number to get the full text of the bill. 974 is the School Employment and tenure bill I discussed in my last post, and 976 is the the Voucher and Charter school expansion bill. The corresponding Senate bills that will be heard on March 15 are SB 603 and SB 597. Let me give you the most critical information about the Voucher and Charter school expansion bill.
By far the most destructive part of this bill is the provision that lets BESE authorize a large number of new agencies across the state that can approve new charters in every parish. These charters don't have to tackle turnaround of failing schools. (which have been a dismal failure in the RSD) They are new charters that can cherry pick the best students from the public schools while public schools continue to serve the left overs. They have every incentive to do this because the new law says they have to maintain a "B" or better rating. So expect a big PR campaign from these charter companies in your parish to recruit students for college prep schools. If you have resisted setting up magnet schools in your parish because you don't want to pull the best students out of your regular schools, they will specifically target your parish. If you have a lot of middle class families (white and black) who are uncomfortable with the school population in their local school, they will target your parish. Now imagine a few years into the future to see the result of all this. Schools will be re segregated into the haves and have-nots, and the public schools will be left with the have nots.

Now on the issue of HB 974. (tenure nullification and firing teachers based on student test scores) I just want to add a little to what I gave you earlier this week. The issue is not tenure. Many teachers will tell you they don't care about tenure because they have a principal who knows they are doing a good job and who will never try to fire their good teachers. The problem is this new Act 54 evaluation system will be so erratic and unpredictable that teachers will be mostly at the mercy of the value added formula gurus at the state Department of Education. (there are many horror stories from other states that have tried this) Student performance is supposed to count for only 50% of the evaluation, but I firmly believe it will have a much greater impact than 50%. What do you think will happen if you teach in a high poverty school rated as C or D and most of the teachers get a satisfactory evaluation because of the COMPASS portion of the evaluation? Someone from Baton Rouge is going to come down hard on the principal because he/she is not rooting out the "incompetent" teachers. We all know it has nothing to do with teacher competence. "It's the poverty stupid!" You get the picture. This bill puts every educator unfairly at risk. Please start working on your emails to legislators now, and plan on sending a delegation of teachers and administrators to Baton Rouge on March 14 and 15.
This is how you get the email address of all legislators: Click on this link and type in your address and zip to find all your legislators. Click on each one to go to their web page where you can get the email for your Rep. and Senator.
Take my advice. Forget about your party affiliation. This is not a political party issue. It is a survival of education issue. We just want our legislators to represent us and our families for a change when they vote on this.
Here is a simple sample email. I am sure you can improve on this:
Dear (your legislator):
I am a (teacher) (principal) (etc) who lives in your district. I am very much opposed to HB 974 (or SB 603) because it will unfairly base my continued employment as a teacher on student test scores. I do my job faithfully as a teacher but I have no control over students whose parents send them to school unprepared or let them miss too much school or allow them to refuse to do homework or study. I do not want to have my job and my due process destroyed because of factors over which I have no control. Please vote against this bill. My family and I are depending on you to represent us, not some unproven system.
Here is one for HB 976 and SB 597
Dear (your legislator)
I am a public school educator in your district. I am writing to ask you to oppose HB 976 or (SB 597). This bill (along with a lot of other bad provisions) allows private companies to come into our parish and establish a school that will cherry pick our students so that some individuals can make a profit off of our children. This will not improve education. It will simply further damage our public schools and endanger public educator's careers. Please vote against this bill.
Finally, I strongly recommend that schools have faculty meetings to plan your strategy on this. Someone needs to take the lead and research the bills and inform everyone. Send them to this blog. Do everything you can!