The 2017 Legislative Session opens on Monday, April 10th, at 12:00 noon. Currently, I am following 31 bills in the House Education Committee and 16 bills in the Senate Education Committee. Below, is a summary of the bills and my position on the bill. I will update this page throughout the session, so check back, often.

Click on the bill number to view the original bill. Bills that I was personally involved in are highlighted as “quotes,” like this section.

House Bills

HB-20 SCHOOLS: Provides relative to exemptions from the requirements for school instructional time under certain circumstances. This bill would exempt from minimum instruction time requirements any school that has suffered catastrophic damage from a natural disaster and is forced to share a facility with another school. SUPPORT

HB-34 HIGHER EDUCATION: (Constitutional Amendment) Relative to management of public post-secondary education, abolishes the Board of Regents and the management boards and transfers their powers, duties, and responsibilities to a newly created Louisiana Post-secondary Education Board of Trustees. This bill is an attempt to streamline Louisiana’s complex university systems which is a good thing; however, it would likely result in duplicative programs being eliminated and students having to attend college away from home for their particular program of interest. UNDECIDED

HB-79 STUDENT/DISCIPLINE:  Prohibits corporal punishment for certain students with exceptionalities. This bill does exactly what it says and is long overdue. There is a similar bill offered that addresses corporal punishment for ALL students. SUPPORT

HB-111 CURRICULA: Requires instruction in litter prevention and awareness for public school students in certain grades. Requires that K-5 students receive supplemental instruction on litter awareness during Science time. Oddly enough, this sort of thing has been offered in the past, but was eventually eliminated because of funding. This will likely pass, but seems like an “unfunded mandate.” SUPPORT

HB-113 STUDENT/TUITION: Removes termination of the authority of public post-secondary education management boards to establish and increase student fees. I don’t have enough information on this bill to make a decision, yet. UNDECIDED

HB-117 TOPS:  Raises the minimum grade point average required for initial eligibility for a Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) Opportunity Award. This bill raises the GPA requirement to qualify for TOPS. There are several bills introduced again this year to address TOPS. Although I am not a huge fan of the program, I’ll support any effort to keep it from going away. I would prefer to see it be “needs” based. SUPPORT

HB-122 COLLEGES/ADMISSIONS: Prohibits questions regarding criminal history on an initial application for admission to a public post-secondary education institution. This bills removes questions about a college applicant’s criminal history. Though there may be legitimate reasons for a college/university to know if a student has a violent criminal history, a criminal history, in general, is no concern of the institution. SUPPORT IF AMENDED

HB-130 STUDENTS: Provides that economically disadvantaged students shall be included as a factor for purposes of teacher evaluations and requirements for enrollment of at-risk students in charter schools. I was unaware that economically disadvantage students can be excluded from a charter school teachers evaluation; however, I am in favor of any bills that requires charter school teachers to adhere to the same rules and restrictions that a public school does. SUPPORT

HB-133 HIGHER EDUCATION:  Requires each public post-secondary education management board to develop a centralization plan and a cooperative unification plan and submit them to the legislature. Related to HB-34, above. Requires the managing boards to come up with a plan on how they could merge and consolidate. UNDECIDED

HB-178 SCHOOLS/PROPRIETARY:  Provides that certain educator provider programs are not proprietary schools and thus not subject to licensing by the Board of Regents. This would take away the Board of Regents’ ability to approve, or disapprove, non-university providers operations within the state. This would open the door for non-profit groups like Relay Graduate School of Education, and others, to operate with out minimum standards, or approval from the Board of Regents. OPPOSE

HB-194 TOPS: Raises the minimum GPA required for initial eligibility for a Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) Opportunity Award and provides for exceptions granted with respect to enrollment requirements for initial and continuing eligibility. This bill is virtually identical to HB-117, listed above. SUPPORT

HB-203 STUDENT/ASSESSMENT: Requires the state Department of Education to provide student assessment results for certain assessments for dispersal to teachers. This is one of the bills that I participated in and was one of the recommendations to Gov. Edwards from his ESSA Advisory Council. The bill would required LDOE to provide teachers will usable results from the state assessment such as item analysis, a breakdown of performance in each domain, etc. The bill requires the information to be provided prior to August 31st, each year, to both the current teacher and the previous teacher. Teachers have not seen this type of information since prior to the Jindal reforms. The information is vital to reviewing and improving instructional programs. SUPPORT

HB-208 SCHOOLS: Provides relative to foods and beverages sold to students in public schools. I’m always a little cautious when it comes to education bills submitted by Steve Carter. I am uncertain of the intent of this bill. I need more information. UNDECIDED

HB-239 SCHOOLS/CHARTER: Requires certain charter school information to be submitted by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and ceases authorization of charter schools pending certification of such information. It has long been determined that charter school data is manipulated in a manner that misrepresents their performance as higher than it actually is. This bill would require that LDOE, provide on a yearly basis, not only the data and analysis of charter schools, also the raw data, to legislative auditors for verification of accuracy and adherence to particular laws related to charter schools. SUPPORT

HB-242 SCHOOLS/CHARTER: Requires the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and local public school boards to post certain information on their respective websites relative to independent evaluations of charter proposals. Requires that 3rd party evaluations of charter school applications be posted a minimum of 5 days prior to the meeting for consideration. Information must include quality of program, financial status and evidence of fiscal responsibility. SUPPORT

HB-330 SCHOOLS/FINANCE-MFP: (Constitutional Amendment) Permits legislative amendment of the MFP formula to change the base cost per pupil. Currently, the yearly MFP formula is prepared, approved and submitted to the legislature by BESE. The legislature can reject the formula and make a recommendation to BESE; however, if the formula is ultimately not approved, MFP funding reverts to the previous year’s formula. This bill would eliminate the rejection/recommendation process and just allow the legislature to amend the formula, appropriately. I am not sure I can support this. While it is true, the legislature could appropriate more money by increasing the MFP, they could also reduce it more than the 1% that is currently allowed. This process is constitutionally protected. If passed in the legislature, it would require a vote by the general population. UNDECIDED

HB-497 STUDENT/DISCIPLINE:  Prohibits corporal punishment in public elementary and secondary schools. Related to HB-79 and eliminates corporal punishment for ALL students. SUPPORT

HB-517 EDUCATION: Requires the state superintendent of education to report specified information annually pertaining to each public school, including charter schools. Requires the superintendent of education to provide a yearly school performance report to the legislature that includes percentage of economically challenged students, number of highly qualified teachers (obsolete term), total number of teacher absences, and other information, for each individual school, including charter schools. SUPPORT

HB-532 EDUCATION: Removes requirements for use of a value-added assessment model with regard to school and district accountability and teacher evaluations. This bill would allow districts to choose whether, or not, they want to use the VAM model in teacher evaluations. I’d like to see VAM eliminated, but it is a step in the right direction. SUPPORT

HB-536 STUDENT/ASSESSMENT:  Provides relative to assessments administered to public school students including penalties for nonparticipation and reporting participation rates. This bill, I was heavily involved in. It would prohibit a school, or district, from discriminating against, or punishing, a student whose parent has made the decision to exclude them (opt-out) from state assessments. The parent’s right to do this is expressed in the new ESSA law. In addition, it requires LDOE to calculate school performance scores, not by assigning a zero to every non-participant, but by using the formula set forth in ESSA which allows 5% of eligible students to not participate before the school is penalized. The school’s participation rate AND achievement rate must be reported on the school report card. SUPPORT

HB-538 SCHOOLS/BOARDS: Relative to service as a member of a traditional or charter school board, requires a high school diploma to be eligible and provides that a person who has been convicted of or pled nolo contendere to certain crimes is not eligible. Again, always cautious about bills by Steve Carter. This bill would not allow convicted felons to be a member of a charter school board and requires a high school diploma to be on the board. UNDECIDED

HB-541 STUDENTS: Provides relative to early graduation from high school including incentives for students and savings redirected for certain other educational purposes. Again, Steve Carter. This bill requires 8th grade students be given a plan to graduate high school in three years; instead of four. The 49% of the MFP money that the high school would have gotten in the 4th year would follow the student to the first year in college in the form of a scholarship. This shifting around the finite set of MFP money with no regard for how it affects public school districts needs to stop. OPPOSE

HB-543 SCHOOLS/EMPLOYEES: Limits authorized payroll withholdings for teachers and other school employees to nonunion dues only and eliminates required request for deduction. Yet, another attempt to drastically reduce the ability of the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) and the Louisiana Federation of Teachers (LFT) abilities to collect their membership dues while leaving intact, Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana’s (A+PEL) ability to do so. The idea is that the “government” should not collect dues for a union that then uses that revenue to lobby legislation. Their efforts are laughable in that both the firefighter’s union and the police union do exactly that. In addition, In A+PEL’s lawsuit against LFT, a number of years ago, the courts opined that while A+PEL is not actually a union, it serves the role of one. OPPOSE

HB-546 SCHOOLS:  Provides relative to exemptions from laws, rules, and regulations applicable to public school boards and the schools and employees under the jurisdiction of each with certain exceptions. I am unsure of the intent of this bill, but it sounds like it would allow districts to do whatever they want. I need more information. UNDECIDED

HB-567 SCHOOLS/CHOICE:  Provides relative to school choice. Much like Steve Carter, Nancy Landry’s bills must be approached with caution. This bill appears to take away local decision making regarding school capacity as it relates to accepting students whose parents are exercising their school choice rights. It relegates authority to BESE to determine how “capacity” is determined. OPPOSE

HB-568 STUDENTS: Provides relative to the collection and sharing of certain student information. This bill, combined with HB-178, would allow certain student information to be shared with entities that aren’t actually institutes of higher learning under the guise of research. OPPOSE

HB-569 STUDENT/ASSESSMENT: Provides relative to education standards and related assessments. Exercising caution on this bill by Nancy Landry. It appears to try to do away with the requirement that LDOE produce an “alternative assessment” for students with disabilities. This is required by federal law. OPPOSE

HB-572 STUDENT/ASSESSMENT: Provides requirements for administering standards-based assessments to public school students. Also known as the “testing reduction” bill. This was another one of the recommendations made to the governor by his ESSA Advisory Council. It reduces yearly assessments to the minimum required in ESSA. A fiscal note will likely be attached as this is a fiscal year addressing a huge budget deficit, and this bill would save the state a lot of money. SUPPORT

HB-573 STUDENTS:  Provides for participation in a dual enrollment program at postsecondary education institutions by certain high school students enrolled in programs approved by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Adds the requirement that students participating in “dual-enrollment” classes be a resident of the state. SUPPORT

HB-616 STUDENT/ASSESSMENT: Provides relative to time requirements and responsibilities of public school governing authorities with regard to student assessments. Limits the amount of time used for state assessments to no more than 21 hours in a school year. SUPPORT

HCR-7 SCHOOLS/FINANCE-MFP: Provides for legislative approval of the MFP formula for FY 2017-18. I don’t have enough information about this resolution to make a decision. UNDECIDED

Senate Bills

SB-13 STUDENTS: Provides relative to student eligibility to participate in the Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program. This bill is part of the governor’s legislative agenda. It was submitted last year, but pulled before being heard. It would prohibit a child from entering kindergarten on a voucher scholarship if they have never enrolled in a public school. SUPPORT

SB-17 TRAFFIC:  Provides for driver education to include instruction on appropriate driver conduct when stopped by a law enforcement officer. Requires driver education to include “how to interact with a police officer when pulled over” as part of its curriculum. SUPPORT

SB-71 TOPS:  Provides relative to TOPS award amounts. Deletes some confusing language in the bill regard award amounts. SUPPORT

SB-73 SCHOOLS: Allows each public school governing authority to determine the education content standards and assessments to be used in the schools under its jurisdiction. Introduced by Sen. Milkovich last year, but didn’t make it out of committee. This bill would allow each school district to determine it own academic standards and assessment. I would easily support if it only addressed assessments. Standards might cause chaos. I need to hear his argument. UNDECIDED

SB-82 EDUCATION ACCOUNTABILITY: Provides relative to the La. Competency-Based Education Program and the La. Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) tests. Senator Appel’s bills fall under the same category as Rep. Landry and Rep. Carter. APPROACH WITH CAUTION! This bill would take authority to select academic standards and assessment away from BESE and give it to LDOE. OPPOSE

SB-87 BESE: Requires allocation of certain amounts of minimum foundation program formula funds to the unfunded accrued liability of the Teachers’ Retirement System. A portion of the MFP includes money designated to paying towards the “unfunded liability” in the teacher retirement system. Historically, charter schools have taken MFP money, but not paid that portion toward retirement. Their teachers don’t participate in the teacher retirement system; therefore, they don’t pay into it, and the unfunded liability isn’t paid. This bill takes it out of the MFP and requires the state to make the payment. SUPPORT

SB-91 STUDENTS: Prohibits the use of corporal punishment for certain students with exceptionalities. Similar to the other two bills that address corporal punishment. SUPPORT

SB-110 TOPS: Provides for residency requirements for TOPS recipients and for repayment of a TOPS award under certain circumstances. Would require TOPS recipients to remain a resident of Louisiana after completing a program for the same number of years they received the award. SUPPORT

SB-145 TOPS: Provides relative to Tulane Legislative Scholarships. Requires recipients of a Tulane legislative scholarship who also qualifies for TOPS to apply the scholarship towards tuition before applying the TOPS award. SUPPORT

SB-157 TOPS: Provides relative to TOPS award amounts. Clarifies some language regarding amount awarded for TOPS-Tech. SUPPORT

SB-158 STUDENTS:  Provides relative to bullying. Authorizes school personnel to intervene when witnessing a bullying incident and requires schools to file a report with local police for all bullying incidences. Prohibits retaliation against anyone who reports bullying. Bullying is a serious problem in schools, and often times, goes unreported, and sometimes results in suicide. SUPPORT unapologetically.

SB-170 EDUCATION ACCOUNTABILITY: Provides that, for the 2016-2017 school year, students, schools, and districts in declared disaster areas shall not be negatively impacted by the school and district accountability system. Prohibits the results of state assessments penalizing a school, or system, that has been affected by a natural disaster. SUPPORT

SB-209 CURRICULA: Provides for the Louisiana Early College Opportunity Act. Requires the various college boards to work together with LDOE to develop courses, identify potential students and implement dual-enrollment programs related to associate degrees and career related programs. SUPPORT

SB-215 SCHOOLS:  Provides relative to the enrollment procedures of certain charter schools. Modifies the application process for language immersion charter schools to allow the children of foreign teachers who have been recruited to teach at the school to attend the school. SUPPORT

SB-225 CURRICULA: Provides relative to STEM education. Creates a STEM advisory committee, establishes a STEM fund in the Treasury and requires BESE to add a STEM endorsement to high school diploma. I need more information on this bill. UNDECIDED

SB-233 EDUCATION ACCOUNTABILITY: Requires BESE to award additional points to the school performance score of a school that offers certain certified foreign language immersion programs. Requires BESE to add 5 additional points to the SPS score of a school with a certified language immersion program. I understand the desire to make accountability more fair, but I am unsure how this would accomplish that. UNDECIDED