Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has an ambitious overhaul plan for primary and secondary education that will be introduced in the legislative session that begins on March 12th. Jindal’s agenda is targeted at four major pieces of legislation: teacher tenure, charter schools, vouchers, and early childhood education.
Jindal’s plan for teacher tenure includes extending high performance evaluations to five years before tenure. Teachers would be evaluated as highly effective, effective, or ineffective. Highly effective ratings for five years merit tenure, while teachers who already have tenure are required to meet “effective” status to keep it. Ineffective teachers would be subject to dismissal, regardless of previous ratings. Jindal also wants to shift some of the power from the school boards to the superintendents and principals especially in regards to employment decisions.
Jindal also plans to expand charter schools and wants to allow parents in an “F”-ranked public school to vote to convert the school into a charter school. The governor also would like to see public universities and nonprofits the ability to approve new charter schools.
In regards to vouchers, Jindal wants to re-allocate the state’s per-pupil spending to low-income students in poorly performing schools to pay private school tuition. Jindal’s spokesman said “we believe the money – all of it – should follow the student.” And in early childhood education, Jindal would mandate that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) would have the responsibility to oversee all state and federally funded early childhood education programs and would develop a goal setting program to ready children for kindergarten.
Nationally, Jindal is doing well among conservatives and has been in running among pundits to be groomed for the next generation of GOP candidates. “If Republicans in Washington are not panicked and trying desperately to pull Bobby Jindal in the race tomorrow, or someone like him, the party leaders must have a death wish,” Erick Erickson, a blogger from Redstate.com wrote. The Wall Street Journal said if Jindal gets his way, he could make Louisiana “the first (state) to effectively dismantle a public education monopoly.”
The State Senate Education Chairman Conrad Appel and Rep. Steve Carter will be carrying the bills while competing bills have been introduced by Senator Ben Nevers, Rep. Pat Smith, and Rep. Roy Burrell.
Posted by: Devon Thorsell
Sources: Times-Picayune NOLA, American Press, The Wall Street Journal
Photo Credit: Bobby Jindal, The Governor of Louisiana by flickr user Marc V. Genre