2012 Legislative session begins with teachers at forefront

BATON ROUGE, LA (KPLC) - The 2012 Legislative session began today in Baton Rouge as Governor Bobby Jindal addressed both the house and the senate about upcoming changes.

Governor Jindal's stance on education has long been a topic of discussion amongst Louisiana politicians and citizens.

In Monday's State of the State address he discussed his way to improve education is through the teachers.

Governor Jindal opened by reflecting on the past few years.

"I promised you we would work together to create a new Louisiana, to keep our children and grandchildren at home, to bring back the entrepreneurs, the dreamers, the innovators," he said. "I told you we would have to be bold. And I want to thank you. Thank the returning members. We did work together."

He says there's plenty of evidence to support that change.

"After 25 years of losing our young people, for four years in a row, we've had more people move into Louisiana rather than leave our state," said Jindal. "For the first time, we're beginning to bring back our children and our grandchildren."

But what about Louisiana's future? Jindal believes the state has a long way to go to catch up with other's close by and far away.

"Make no mistake about it," he said. "It is great we have cut taxes. It is great we have revamped the ethics code, but the states and the countries that have the most educated, the most skilled, the most productive people, the most productive workers are those states and those countries that are going to win in this modern global economy."

The same applies for Louisiana education. Jindal says the state is falling short for the students.

"We have a lot more work to do to fulfill that promise of providing a great education for every child in Louisiana," said Jindal.

Jindal believes improving education begins with holding teachers accountable. One teacher union said they were fine with evaluations as long as they were not so closely tied to student achievement. Jindal called that statement "absurd."

"Our teachers are the most important, the most important adult in our children's lives other than the parents themselves," said Jindal.

Jindal says teachers who perform well will be rewarded, those who want to improve will have the help available, and those below standard may need to look for another job. Louisiana Democrats responded following final's address with much cooperation.

Representative John Bel Edwards stated that Democrats want to work with the Republicans and Jindal, pointing out that there are some common goals.

Also discussed was the retirement plan for state employees. The Democrats agreed to discuss a possible new retirement plan but only for new employees.

The Democrats were also very critical of Jindal's budget saying it is "irresponsible."

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