At least one major piece of education reform is dead for the current legislative session — House Bill 410 by Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge. The bill would have allowed local option elections to place term limits on school board members. The bill passed the House easily but was deferred — a euphemism for killed — by the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee last week.
"Suffice it to say, there was a good deal of back room politics involved," wrote Council for A Better Louisiana President Barry Erwin in his weekly report to CABL members. Later in the same report, Erwin wrote: "Term limits are not a panacea, but ... a regular influx of new faces and new ideas holds the promise of accelerating change and progress in our local schools."
On other fronts, Erwin says there's still reason to cheer in the arena of education reform. Other bills that CABL supports, and which are still alive in the current legislative session, include:
• House Bill 942, which prohibits individual school board members from "micro-managing" school superintendents. It also requires a two-thirds vote to dismiss a superintendent while still under contract. This bill passed the House and is headed for the Senate.
• House Bill 1033, the so-called "Value-Added Teacher Evaluation" bill, requires an annual teacher evaluation instead of once every three years and that at least half of the teacher's evaluation be based on student test scores. This bill passed the House and is headed for the Senate.
• House Bill 1171, the LA GRAD Act, would give colleges and universities more tuition and operational autonomy in exchange for commitments to achieve performance measures. The bill awaits action on the House floor.
"All of these bills remain works in progress, but they represent good legislation brought forward for the right reasons — to improve education in our state at all levels," Erwin wrote. "It's frustrating to watch reform efforts fail, but it's also a reminder that in many ways the status quo is our biggest foe." — Clancy DuBos