Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Explosive issues face legislature

The legislative session opens in less than a week, and from the looks of this article by Advocate reporter Will Sentell, things could get very hot very fast.

Here's the short list: Sen. Ben Nevers of Bogalusa, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, will ask his colleagues to demand that the state, not local school boards, pay stipends for educators with national certification. That puts him at loggerheads with the Jindal administration.

Now comes another poke at the governor's agenda, by a member of his own Republican party. A bill by Rep. Rogers Pope of Denham Springs would negate Gov. Jindal's proposal to force local school boards to pay for transporting private and religious school students.

Rep. Steve Carter of Baton Rouge wants to submit a term-limits bill for school board members. That's a declaration of war against the same group Carter fought last year, with bills that would have curbed most school board authority.

Carter is also planning to introduce a bill that would "compress the time for teachers to undergo remediation before any hearings on their job security, which is called tenure."

Tenure is a third rail of education politics. Even though Carter has not said his that plan is to dilute tenure laws, the very mention of the word sends a potent signal. Tenure rights were hard to win. The Louisiana Federation of Teachers and others will watch carefully, and won't tolerate efforts to water down teachers' due process rights.

Yet another incendiary bill, HB 489 by Rep. Joe Harrison, would abolish the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The proposed constitutional amendment would transfer BESE's authority to the Superintendent of Education, who would be appointed by the governor.

Trenches are being dug in Baton Rouge. This could be a long siege.

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