Legislators receive public education report cards

By By Nichole Osinski / American Press

Area legislators were recognized by the Louisiana Association of Educators Monday for their performances regarding public

education at last year’s legislative session.

The LAE and the Calcasieu Association of Educators held a “report card” ceremony for Calcasieu, Cameron, Beauregard, Allen

and Jefferson Davis parish legislators who received an A or B for their educational work.

The award certificates were given based on a grading system determined by the LAE legislative contact team.

UniServ Director for LAE Terry Holden

said the report card was made from scores based off around 12 pieces of

legislation

from the 2012 session. The state senators and representatives had

points taken away or added depending on how they voted on

the legislation.

“It’s our intention to try to find our where they are in these issues and these bills,” said Holden. “Education is one of

those things we usually don’t get a second chance to do correctly.”

Two key determinates in the LAE’s

point system were if a legislator voted for or against Acts 1 and 2 of

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s

education reform. Holden said because the bills had such strong

impact, more points were given to those who were not in favor

of Jindal’s overhaul.

Jindal’s changes to teacher tenure and

salary laws of Act I were recently ruled unconstitutional, throwing out

several other

changes that include the school board’s power in hiring and

firing, the local school superintendents’ contracts and teacher

layoffs.

Three sections of the act had previously been upheld but were thrown out after deciding the act did not contain one objective

which violated part of the state constitution.

Act 2, which dealt with the statewide voucher program, was ruled unconstitutional by a state judge last November. The judge

ruled it unconstitutional to funnel public money to private schools for the vouchers.

LAE/CAE board member and teacher Vicky Johnston said the last legislation was rushed and there was not enough time to read

what was in the bills. She said legislators need time to educate themselves and ask questions.

“It’s about how well they support our views on education and support the children in the state of Louisiana and how the bills

that are passing through the legislature are benefiting those children,” she said.

Rep. A.B. Franklin, D-Lake Charles, who

scored an A, said two areas that need work are the classrooms and

amount of work teachers

have. He said teachers are being overworked in classrooms that

have too many children.

Rep. Michael Danahay, D-Sulphur, said the evaluation system, which rates teachers on effectiveness, could also use improvement.

He said educators do not have a problem with being rated as long as it is done fairly.

“Our teachers today have an incredible challenge,” said Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Lake Charles. “All of us are for education reform

but there’s got to be a reasonable way to do this.”

Legislators who received an A grade were Rep. James Armes III, D-Leesville, Rep. A.B. Franklin, D-Lake Charles, Rep. Dorothy

Sue Hill, D-Dry Creek, Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish, R-Jennings and Sen. Jonathan Perry, R-Kaplan.

Legislators who received a B grade were Rep. Michael Danahay, D-Sulphur, Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, Sen. Eric LaFleur,

D-Ville Platte, Sen. John Smith, R-Leesville, and Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Lake Charles.