Louisiana Legislators - FIRST, DO NO HARM!

I am using this blog to respond to some disagreement and questions that were expressed regarding an opinion I posted on my Facebook page regarding a bill filed by Rep. Marcus Hunter (D).  I posted a blog written by another person with strong opinions regarding Hunter's HB 708 and added my comment as follows:

Another poorly thought out bill that are amazingly offered up by our Black Caucus that would further set back opportunities for our black students.
Although Rep. Hunter appears to be the sole sponsor of this HB 708, my reference to the Black Caucus reflects the fact that several other questionable bills have been filed by our African American legislators and that the group has taken a position in support of some of the so-called reforms leading to privatization of our public schools. 

My primary objections to HB 708 are based on these proposed additions to the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) scholarships:

Proposed law adds a requirement that the student pursue a degree or skill or occupational training that would qualify him for employment in a four or five star job, on a statewide basis, as defined by the Louisiana Workforce Commission. Further provides that a student shall remain eligible for an award if all other conditions of present law are met and if after the student enrolls in but before he completes the program of study such job is no longer defined as a four or five star job.

and

Proposed law provides that for an award recipient first enrolling in an eligible institution for or during the 2015-2016 academic year or thereafter, upon completion of a bachelor's or postgraduate degree, such former recipient of an award shall either reside in La for at least one year for each year of award he received or repay one year of award for each year he fails to meet this residency requirement. Requires any such recipient who loses eligibility to receive awards to repay amounts received.
While I think the use of the words "indentured servants" used in the blog I re-posted is rather strong, it got my attention and caused me to review this proposed legislation. In fact, this proposed legislation is not only harmful African American students, but to ALL students who qualify for the Scholarships but now have to face further obstacles just to take advantage of them.  It is particularly discouraging for those students who struggle academically and with other challenges like poverty, language limitations, learning disabilities or other difficult circumstances. 

This legislation is another example of the direction both K-12 and higher education have been going in reducing the importance of the extensive benefits of an educated society to a single outcome - workforce development.

 It also would seem to eliminate the CHOICE that reform claims to use as its chief marketing tool by narrowing the eligible field of employment to what the Louisiana Workforce Commission rates as four or five-star jobs.

 It also creates a chilling effect for students who might otherwise enthusiastically attempt to achieve some level of higher education but are dissuaded because of the spectre of "failure" in the event a plethora of circumstances could cause them to fall short of the required bachelor's degree or to seek gainful employment outside of the State of Louisiana.


My concerns about the position that the Black Caucus appears to be taking that support certain failing "reforms" that our State Superintendent of Education John White have instituted, with BESE approval, are best expressed in the words of several respected educators that I will quote in the next several blogs. 






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