The 2016 regular session has just a little more than a week left, but for the most part, the bills addressing education concerns are done. Looking back at the 2016 Regular Session, it is pretty clear that the gap between party lines is much larger than in years past. Though newly elected governor, John Bel Edwards, did manage to get a few of the bills on his agenda passed, it was still a very difficult year, for him.
With bills addressing vouchers, charter schools, academic standards and teacher evaluations, the governor’s education package suffered many blows from the beginning. Nearly every bill originating in the House was killed in committee, and every bill coming over from the Senate was killed in the House committee, which was to be expected with the House Education Committee chaired by one of the biggest supporters of “School Choice,” Nancy Landry.
We have to give credit to those who deserve it. When all that was left was the evaluation bill and standards bill, the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Dan Morrish, took a stand. He said he would not have another bill make it through the Senate only to be killed in the House. He insisted that all of the parties involved gather around the table and discuss it. He refused to hear the bills until an agreement was reached. It was a process that took several weeks. It is disheartening to know how much influence some organizations have over my career and the education of my children, but like I said, credit where credit is due. A compromise was reached on teacher evaluations and academic standards through the efforts of LAE, LFT, A+PEL, LABI, CABL and Stand for Children. I also want to thank Senators Wesley Bishop and Gerald Boudreaux and Rep. Ed Price for the parts that they played. And yes, Rep. Nancy Landry had a role, too.
In short, the bills accomplished the following:
- The VAM portion of a teacher’s evaluation is reduced to 35%. The quantitative side of the evaluation remains at 50% meaning the remaining 15% will be measured by something other than VAM.
- The effects of VAM are on a one year moratorium and cannot be used to evaluate a teacher; however, data collected will be available for other uses such as analyzing student performance and making adjustments to teaching strategies.
- IF and ONLY IF the newly revised standards are adopted, the implementation will take place over the course of a year and will not be in effect until 17-18. No test related to the standards will be used to evaluate teachers, or determine placement and retention of students.
In addition to the passage of the bills in the compromise, Sen. Morrish’s bill restricting Local Charter Authorizers was also passed. This bill was inadvertently listed on the “Order of the Day” as part of the compromise package which didn’t sit well with Rep. Landry. Not only did she oppose the bill, but she also repeatedly stated that it WAS NOT part of the compromise. The bill passed easily with only a few representatives voting with Landry. All of those who voted against the bill are also members of Landry’s education committee.
Culminating the end of a successful day, I was invited to attend the signing of Gov. Edwards’ Executive Order to establish an ESSA Education Advisory Council to study the effects of ESSA and report recommendations to the governor. A Senate Concurrent Resolution was also filed to establish a task force that includes all stakeholders to examine and make recommendations for the education accountability system. In the final week of the session, another resolution will be filed to establish an ESSA/Teacher Evaluation task force to examine the entire evaluation process as it relates to ESSA and make recommendations to the legislature.
I will continue to follow these processes and will remain involved to the extent that I am able. Please share this with your friends, family and co-workers and urge them to subscribe via email, “Like” on FaceBook, or “Follow” on Twitter.