LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Despite overwhelming opposition from teachers across the state Governor Bobby Jindal continues to defend what some are calling the toughest education reform laws in the nation.
"Look, I want to commend the Legislature. They've adopted and sent to my desk two great bills and help to make sure every child in Louisiana gets a great education," said Gov. Jindal.
As teachers plan a legal challenge to the legislation they're also collecting signatures to recall Jindal and House Speaker Chuck Kleckly.
"The reality is there is a coalition for the status quo. They will do anything they can to defend the status quo, to fight change and that is unacceptable. A third of our kids are below grade level. 44% of our public schools get a D or F letter grade. The reality is we rank in the bottom five in the national education outcomes. We owe our children a great education. We've got thousands of great teachers across the state... This legislation will finally help recognize and reward those great teachers," said Jindal.
The two policies include relaxing teacher tenure rules, increased power for school administrators to fire teachers, tying test scores to teacher performance and the promotion of school vouchers, along with the creation of new charter schools.
But teachers are firing back. They say the portions of the new laws are and were written by an out of state group American Legislature Exchange Council (ALEC). Governor Jindal said that's not so.
"This legislation was written by Louisianans. We listened to teachers, to principals. We listened to parents and we traveled all over the state. Anybody that tells you differently - it's just more disinformation coming from the status quo," said Jindal.
The governor said bottom line the bills are based on the needs of Louisiana and its students.
"My message to the coalition for the status quo - it's not about the adults, it's about the students and they deserve a great education. That's what these bills are about," said Jindal.
The teachers face an uphill battle. Under Louisiana law, they'll need a third of Louisiana's registered voters to recall Jindal - roughly 900-thousand signatures. In order to recall Kleckly they'll need a third of registered voters from his district, which adds up about 10,000. The signatures must be collected within 180 days of the start of the petition.