Teachers react to Jindal's proposals

RAW: Teacher Rally
Teachers from Lake Arthur
Teachers from Lake Arthur
Teachers from J. I. Watson
Teachers from J. I. Watson

BATON ROUGE, LA (KPLC) - They started showing up early Wednesday morning, before seven o'clock. Teachers from across the state made a point to be on the Capitol steps to speak out against Governor Bobby Jindal's education reform.

Their issues with the bills are numerous.

Teacher retirement plans will be altered. Tax payer money will follow students to the school of their choice, including charter and private schools. Teachers will be held solely accountable for poor performance of students. These are all things that would happen if house bills 976 and 974 are passed.

"We're very concerned about our students," said Cindy Manuel who teaches at S. P. Arnett. "We're concerned about the future of education and we want the public to be aware of what's really taking place."

Governor Jindal's reform plan drew Louisiana teachers out of the classrooms, all in hopes of stopping this reform. Supporters of the bills say that school of choice is needed in the education system. This will allow parents to choose which school their children attend including charter and private schools, all on the taxpayer's dollar.

"We feel like if any money goes to private or parochial schools, any public money goes to that, than those schools should be fully accountable, just as public schools are," said Donald Sonjy with the Louisiana Association of Superintendents.

Whether or not the bills are passed, it's almost certain there will be changes in the public school system.

"It's certainly going to make a difference in public education," said Calcasieu Parish superintendent Wayne Savoy. "We've been changing things in public education for a long time and we're going to continue to do so as long as we meet the needs of the kids. And that's what's important."

The teachers' main point today was the accountability issue. The bills will hold them accountable for children doing poorly in school, without factoring in parental issues or absences. Governor Jindal believes these changes are a necessity if Louisiana wants to succeed.

"If you want to continue to outperform the national and southern economies we've cut taxes," said Jindal. "We've revamped ethics. Education has to be, has to be our top priority in terms of moving the state forward. The discussion of the bill is expected to continue into tomorrow."

A representative from Charter Schools USA spoke out in favor of House bill 976. The only charter school in southwest Louisiana is in Lake Charles.

Judge Gene Thibodeaux helped bring that school to the area, and the spokesperson said that while he could not make it, Thibodeaux expressed his support for the bill.

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