Apr 5, 2012 8:19 PM by Maddie Garrett
Both the Louisiana State House and Senate passed the teacher tenure bill and the next stop is the governor's office.
After weeks of teacher protests and debate by lawmakers, one part of Governor Bobby Jindal's education reform has passed and it's expected to be signed into law almost immediately.
The bill makes it more difficult for teachers to acquire and maintain tenure, a form of job protection. In the past, teachers received tenure after three years of employment. Now teachers must be rated "highly effective" for five out of six years and if they receive an "ineffective" rating they will lose tenure. Two consecutive years of an "ineffective" rating is grounds for termination.
Both sides of the issue are reacting to the bill's passage. Many teachers and some lawmakers are very disappointed with this particular bill, saying it makes it much too easy to fire teachers. However proponents said the new tenure bill holds teachers to higher standards in order to improve academic performance.
"A lot of parents have pleaded with us to do something. This is not perfect but it is a start because what we have simply is not working, we've got to do something for the children of Louisiana," said Senator Elbert Guillory, who voted for the bill.
Guillory said he supported the tenure bill for one reason, to salvage Louisiana's failing education system.
"Most teachers are performing well and are very hard working, we have to protect those and we have to weed out those who are not performing," said Guillory.
Along with tougher standards for tenure, the bill also puts into place a much more rigorous evaluation system that's based on teacher reviews and student performance.
But these changes have educator and President of Lafayette Association of Educators, Karen Martin, worried.
"The fact that our due process is in jeopardy is very, very disheartening to our teachers because we have done what it takes to get us where we are today," she explained.
She said tenure has always provided due-process for teachers and did get rid of bad teachers. But she said this new bill makes it much too easy to fire teachers and removes protections against wrongful termination.
"As the old adage says, haste makes waste. We're hoping that this is not wasteful legislation and wasteful time that may prove to be bad for our public education system, which actually it could very well be," said Martin.
Martin added that she believes the current changes will dismantle Louisiana's public education system as we know it.
Once Governor Jindal signs off on the bill, the new tenure system will go into effect in July and changes will be seen when the school bells ring this fall.
The Acadiana senators that voted for the bill were Page Cortez and Elbert Guillory. Acadiana senators against the bill were Eric LaFleur, Fred Mills, Dan Morrish and Jonathan Perry.
The Acadiana representatives that voted for the bill were Joel Robideaux, Stuart Bishop, Bob Hensgens, Nancy Landry and Ledricka Thierry.
Representatives voting against it were Stephen Ortego, Vincent Pierre, Jack Montoucet, Taylor Barras, Mickey Guillory, John Guinn, Mike Huval, Sam Jones, Terry Landry and Bernard LeBas.