Monday, June 14, 2010

"Red Tape" waiting for the 11th hour

The decision on Gov. Bobby Jindal's so-called "Red Tape reduction and Local Waiver Empowerment Program" (HB 1368 by Rep. Jane Smith, R-Bossier City), is being delayed, along with a number of important bills.

As Advocate reporter Will Sentell writes here, "...dozens of other proposals are also awaiting debate in the often chaotic final days before any adjournment, which in this case is June 21."

The "Red Tape" act is particularly vexing to teachers and school employees because it fits so poorly into the mix of school reforms that have been adopted already.

The governor's plan would allow school systems to ask for waivers from virtually any law or policy that governs public education. That includes class size, instructional time, funding and personnel issues like teacher tenure.

But at the same time, another newly-passed law seeks to standardize teacher evaluations across the state. There's an obvious collision course: teachers working under widely varying classroom conditions cant be expected to conform to a single evaluation standard.

Just as troubling is the thought of a legislature volunteering to surrender its lawmaking authority. If the bill passes, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be the body that grants waivers to local school boards. BESE is a policy board, not a lawmaking body.

Note that in Sentell's article, Gov. Jindal's lawyer avoids talking about the bill's possible constitutional SNAFU, but instead says just that they probably have the muscle to get it passed in the Senate.

Passage of the bill would set the concept of separation of powers on its ear. There's still a chance to send senators a message of opposition to HB 1368; please click here for redirection to the LFT Action Center.

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