PPEL’s 2014 Legislative Report Card

PPEL’s 2014 Legislative Report Card

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Legislative Report Card on PPEL’s legislative priorities – 2014

PPEL heard from Representatives and presented a legislative agenda at our first annual Legislative Breakfast in March. Priority issues included privatization, teacher retention, and accountability systems.  Over two-dozen bills of interest were identified. Of those, only a few were moved out of the House Education Committee and further into the legislative process.  During the session, local governance became an additional legislative priority.

BILL SUMMARY PPELPosition Outcome
HB 703 Edwards A,B,C districts that deny Type 1 charter school applications not subject to Type 2 appeal at BESE. Yes vote FAILED
HB 995 Williams Provides for teacher retention; teacher evaluations from multiple data sources, including TEAM, portfolio, etc. Yes vote FAILED
HB 1232 Landry Change local governance by providing powers to Superintendents to alter job descriptions and salary scales. No vote FAILED
SB 636 White Change local governance by altering responsibilities of principals, school board, Superintendent, in Baton Rouge. No vote FAILED
HB 786 Landry Change local governance by changing Lafayette parish school board election cycle timing from short Congressional ticket to long Gubernatorial ticket. No vote PASSED Signed into law

House Education Committee voting record on PPEL’s priority bills:

REPRESENTATIVESHouse Education Committee Grade HB703 HB995 HB1232 SB636
PPEL position y y n n
Carter, Stephen D Baton Rouge n y y y
Jefferson, Patrick A Homer y y n n
Bishop, Wesley B New Orleans y n n
Broadwater, Chris F Hammond y y
Burns, Henry L. D Haughton n y y y
Carmody, Thomas F Shreveport n y y
Champagne, Simone B. F Erath n y
Edwards, John Bel A Amite y y n n
Henry, Cameron, R D Metairie y
Hollis, Paul F Covington n y y
Ivey, Barry F Baton Rouge n y y
Landry, Nancy D Lafayette n y* y y
Price, Edward J. A Gonzales y y n n
Reynolds, Eugene B Minden y y n
Richard, Jerome ‘Dee’ B Thibodeaux y y n
Shadoin, Robert D Ruston y y y
Smith, Patricia Haynes A Baton Rouge y y n n
Thompson, Jeff F Bossier City y y
Williams, Alfred A Baton Rouge y y n n

Representatives Patrick Jefferson, John Bel Edwards, Ed Price, Patricia Haynes-Smith, and Alfred Williams receive an “A”, and Rep.s Gene Reynolds and Dee Richard receive a “B”, for upholding legislative priorities that support students, teachers, and local school districts.

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The voting record of Representatives in the Lafayette Parish delegation on PPEL’s priority bills plus HB 786:

LAFAYETTE House Delegation Grade HB703 HB995 HB1232 SB636 HB786#
PPEL position y y n n n
Taylor F. Barras F District 48 n n y y
Stuart J. Bishop F District 43 n n y
Nancy Landry F District 31 n n* y y y
Terry C. Landry, Sr. B District 96 y y n n
Jack Montoucet D+ District 42 y n n y
Stephen J. Ortego D+ District 39 y n y
Vincent J. Pierre A District 44 y y n n n
Joel C. Robideaux F District 45 n n y

 

*  NOTE: Rep. Nancy Landry changed her vote from support in Committee to opposition in the House.

# NOTE: HB 786 came through Governmental Affairs committees, not Education committees.

 

Representative Vincent Pierre receives an “A” and Rep. Terry Landry receives a “B” for upholding legislative priorities that support students, teachers, and local school districts.

Representatives Taylor Barras, Stuart Bishop, Nancy Landry and Joel Robideaux receive a “F” for abandoning legislative priorities that support students, teachers, and local school districts and instead supporting corporate models, punitive assessments and decreased local control.

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Many lesson were learned from PPEL’s first engagement with the legislative session. Effective activism is challenging and the playing field is not level. Opponents of PPEL’s legislative priorities are well-funded and organized – but parents, educators and citizens put up a good fight and will use the lessons learned to become more effective.

Nothing can change without local activists willing to make a real commitment to policies that support students, teachers and local control of public schools.

Thank you to all who made a phone call, sent an email, or had a meeting with a legislator. We hope you were inspired to continue to speak out and express your opinion as a citizen. Ultimately, the citizen’s opinion about the legislators we elect is the opinion that matters.

Look for PPEL’s next Legislative Breakfast in 2015. Don’t miss it!  Stay engaged!

Concerns with the selection of new members of The Advertiser’s Editorial Board

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Guest Blogger Debbie Hargrave examines the background of the new appointees to the Advertiser editorial board:

The June 1st Sunday Advertiser’s introduction of the 3 new members as well as 2 returning members of its editorial board impressed me. All of the members are highly accomplished and obviously committed to the community. Cindy McCurry-Ross stated that the newspaper sees its role as “sparking, stimulating, provoking and encouraging community dialogue.” Obviously this has been accomplished. My concern, however, is the lack of diversity, especially in terms of public education in Lafayette Parish. Ms. McCurry-Ross further wrote “And we are always open to disparate voices.” I don’t think she has accomplished this goal of diversity in dissimilar and contrasting opinion in terms of public education.

After having taught in a Lafayette Parish public school for 40 years and being a product of that same system, I despair that the public education system not only in Lafayette but throughout the US is under attack, especially by those who say they want reform, but what they mean by reform is privatization i.e. charter schools. Privatization is NOT reform.

Chip Jackson is an active member of 100 Black Men of Greater Lafayette and the chair of their education committee, Anne Falgout is the president-elect of 705, and Jay Jackson is Chair of the education committees of both the Chamber and United Way.

Each of these groups, 100 Black Men, 705, The Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, and The United Way are strong members and supporters of LaPESC – Lafayette Parish Public Education Stakeholders Council. Its primary goal is “Working to achieve academic improvement for all children in the Lafayette Parish Public School System.” That sounds great, but their calls to action and listed goals and priorities are a great deal more specific, and that’s what frightens me.

From the LaPESC website (the underlining is mine) : “Call to Action: LaPESC supports charter schools and advocates LPSS School Board approval of high-quality applications that meet standards of third party reviewers recognized by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. LaPESC also advocates continued support of the 100% in/100% out turnaround plan [Dr. Cooper] so that all LPSS schools are high performing by the year 2018.”

What’s more, although LaPESC set up 10 specific governance goals for the Lafayette Parish School Board in May 2011, the group is now asking community members to evaluate the Board members after every meeting. The proximity of this new initiative to the upcoming elections is, in my mind, far from coincidence though Margaret Trahan, one of LaPESC’s founders, told the Board at its May 21st meeting that the group is not political.

Whether political are not, LaPESC seems very focused and like-minded – the antithesis of the “disparate voices” called for.

I hope that my concerns are unfounded and that the newspaper has not already decided its position in the continuing public school system debates as well as the upcoming School Board elections, but I think there is reason to worry.