Governor Bobby Jindal Unveils Education Reform Plan
After months of putting all the political chess pieces in place, Governor Bobby Jindal unveiled today his plan to reform Louisiana's education system while speaking to the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.
The plan addresses six areas and is sweeping in nature, touching on teacher accountability and compensation, hiring and firing practices, and teacher tenure.
Critics of the plan argue the Jindal plan will hurt teachers and public education, but Jindal blasted such critics, arguing that such "rhetoric is insulting to the people across this state demanding better schools."
"Our children do not have time to wait," Jindal says. "We can't wait for another generation of students to graduate from high school unprepared for the workforce and higher education--or to drop out before they even get there."
Louisiana's public education system was recently given a "C" by Education Week's annual ranking of state school systems, but in the area that Jindal says matters the most--student achievement--the state was given an "F".
"It's clear that that we need to move faster," Jindal says, "and we need to do it now."
Gov. Jindal’s Reform Plan Will Empower All Teachers By Rewarding Excellence:
- Empower districts to use compensation to keep good teachers by stopping forced pay increases to ineffective teachers, allowing them to pay effective teachers more, and by allowing them more flexibility in how they structure salaries.
- Ban the practice of using seniority to make personnel decisions of any kind, including ending the practice of “last in, first out” in reductions in force, prioritizing effectiveness instead.
- Empower superintendents and principals and get school boards out of the hiring and firing business.
- Stop blanket job protection in the form of tenure to teachers who are ineffective after one year. They will simply return to probationary status. Under Louisiana’s value-added law, districts start dismissal proceedings after two years, and teachers lose certification after three years, of ineffectiveness ratings.
- Give superintendents, not school boards, the lead role in the public hearing process when he or she decides that a poor performing teacher should be removed.
- Tie teacher certification to effectiveness, removing the red tape of meaningless federal “highly qualified teacher” requirements, and emphasize effectiveness when selecting Teachers and Principals of the Year.
Gov. Jindal’s Reform Plan Will Empower & Reward New Teachers:
- Give school districts the flexibility to create their own salary scales based on the elements they believe matter to them, such as effectiveness, hard to staff subjects, high poverty schools, and core subjects.
- Reserve tenure status for teachers that have been rated highly effective for five years in a row.
- Make granting of tenure an active process rather than an automatic one so that tenure becomes a recognition given teachers who have demonstrated excellence, rather than merely survived for three years.
Gov. Jindal’s Reform Plan Will Empower Parents By Providing More Choices:
- Expand the existing Scholarship Program statewide for low-income students at C, D and F schools.
- Expand course choices for students by allowing a variety of providers, including school districts, virtual schools, colleges and universities, and businesses with training programs, to offer students additional options.
- Plan the state’s Career and Technical Education regionally to better meet the needs of businesses and address individual student interests, while ensuring students have access to full Industry Based Certification programs.
- Encourage students who want to pursue a career in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math by making it easier to take high level coursework, recognizing when they are successful with that coursework, and helping districts make those courses available.
- Make it easier for high quality charter operators to expand by fast tracking operators with proven track records, streamlining the application process, and giving charter schools the same rights to facilities.
- Allow charter operators who want to open schools in districts with grades of D and F the opportunity to apply directly to the state.
- Create a rebate for donations made to nonprofit organizations that offer scholarships to low-income students to attend private school.
- Give a scholarship to students who graduate early from high school equal to one-half of the dollars the state would have spent had they prolonged their time in high school. Students will be able to use these dollars as a scholarship—above and beyond any other scholarships—at the postsecondary school of their choice.
Gov. Jindal’s Reform Plan Will Give Parents More Levers To Effect Change:
- Allow community organizations, nonprofits, universities, and other local entities to apply directly to the state to become charter authorizers to maintain local control of charter schools in their communities.
- Give parents whose children are at a failing school a parent trigger to effect change more quickly. Rather than waiting until a school has been failing for four years, parents can vote to have their school eligible to be a Recovery School District charter after three years.
- Hold school boards in failing school districts accountable for the performance of their superintendents by requiring state review of their superintendent contracts to make sure there are performance targets for improvement.
- Call on the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to change how the state funds students so that dollars follow the child to whatever educational option meets their needs.
Gov. Jindal’s Reform Plan Will Get Parents More Engaged In Their Child’s Education:
- Let superintendents and principals reward teachers for engaging parents.
- Give districts more ways to engage parents with federal dollars for tutoring and after school programs and be rewarded for it, which also saves parents money for after school care.
Gov. Jindal’s Reform Plan Will Empower School Leaders By Giving Them More Flexibility To Innovate:
- Allow districts to recruit the best and brightest personnel, retain them by rewarding them, and make smart decisions about who to employ so as to maximize their investment in human capital.
- Give districts more flexibility over their federal dollars through applying to waive burdensome federal regulations and let schools spend their federal dollars in the ways that work for them.
- Reduce federal reporting requirements and more strategically align interventions in failing schools, including those required by federal law, to meet the unique needs of students.
Gov. Jindal’s Reform Plan Will Empower Early Childhood Service Providers & Preschools:
- Reduce red tape, align conflicting standards, and streamline data to reduce the administrative burden for early childhood providers and better leverage dollars.
- Create an accountability system for early childhood programs focused on outcomes and based on Kindergarten Readiness that gives parents clear actionable information in a letter grade on which to base their decisions about where to send their child.
- Protect taxpayers by cutting off public funding to low performing early childhood programs, even pulling licensing from low-performing programs, and aligning incentive structure through the School Readiness Tax Credits to reward Kindergarten Readiness.