2016 Session

Approximately 1250 bills were prefiled before the deadline. I am currently monitoring about 100 of them. Some I have already made the decision to support, or oppose; others, I will continue to watch. Below is a list of the bills most important to me as a parent, educator and taxpayer.

BILLS THAT I SUPPORT

SB279 TEACHERS:  Provides relative to the use of student growth data in teacher performance evaluations. There are several bills introduced that address teacher evaluations. The major concerns with the current teacher evaluation are the use of the Value-Added Model, the percentage that Student Growth is attributed to and the type of assessment used. This bill attempts to address most of the concerns; however, some language is questionable. I support this bill with certain amendments.

SB308 EDUCATION ACCOUNTABILITY:  Limits the amount of instructional time devoted to state and district testing. The bill will place time restrictions, not only on state assessments, but also district exams such as DCAs, DIBELS, ClassWorks, etc.

SB330 SCHOOLS:  Allows each public school governing authority to determine the education content standards and assessments to be used in the schools under its jurisdiction. This is an extreme ambitious bill by freshman Senator, Milkovich. While I am not sure how it would work in the present accountability system (which I do not support), I would support this 100%.

HB473 ETHICS:  Provides relative to certain prohibited conflicts for members of the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the state superintendent of education. This bill was originally introduced a year or two ago by former Representative, Brett Geymann. It fell by the wayside in the “Great Compromise” of 2015. It has been revived by Rep. Hensgens and would ultimately prevent John White, Holly Boffy and Kira Orange-Jones from participating in BESE and LDOE while still in their current employment.

HB883 STUDENT/STANDARDS:  Provides relative to continued review of the state content standards by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. This bill is, by all accounts, a placeholder. In the event that the current standards review doesn’t accomplish what it supposed to accomplish, it requires another, more meaningful, review beginning January 2017.

HB137 SCHOOLS/CHOICE:  Prohibits the state Dept. of Education from awarding first-time vouchers to students. The voucher program should, by all means, be eliminated. This bill would not penalize the students who are currently on vouchers, but would not allow anymore vouchers to be awarded.

HB167 SCHOOLS/CHARTER:  Prohibits the State Bd. of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) from authorizing certain types of charter schools under certain fiscal circumstances. Currently, BESE has the authority to approve certain charter applications even after a local board has denied them. This bill would prevent BESE from authorizing those applications, for the remainder of the fiscal year, if the legislature reduces the MFP formula.

HB168 SCHOOLS/CHARTER:  Requires charter school teachers to meet same certification requirements as other public school teachers. The are many laws applying to public schools that charter schools are exempt from. Teacher certification is one of them. This bill would require charter school teachers to meet the same requirements as public school teachers.

SB170 SCHOOLS:  Provides relative to BESE authorization of Type 2 charters. Current law allows BESE to approve Type 2 charter applications after a local board has denied the Type 1 application. This bill would prohibit BESE from approving a Type 2 application if the school district has an A or B rating.

SB198 BESE:  Prohibits BESE from granting Type 2 charters in certain school districts. This bill is almost identical to the previous one, except that it looks at the district score over two years and includes a rating of C in the requirement. I’m supporting both, but will watch amendments and may change my mind, later.

SB260 SCHOOLS:  Provides relative to local charter authorizers and Type 1B charter schools. Not only prohibits BESE from granting “local charter authorizers,” but also invalidates any that have already been approved.

SB262 EDUCATION ACCOUNTABILITY:  Provides relative to state content standards and related tests and assessments. This bill would allow LDOE/BESE to administer assessments (whatever is ultimately put in place), but prohibits using them in teacher evals or student placement until the 2017-2018 school year.

SB293 SCHOOLS:  Provides relative to charter school funding. Present law allows for a charter school to not only receive a portion of the MFP formula, but also additional funding provided by sales taxes that the local district has in place. This bill would restrict their funding to the MFP with no access to local sales tax.

HB502 SCHOOLS/CHARTER:  Requires the State Bd. of Elementary and Secondary Education to conduct a fiscal impact study prior to making a determination relative to a Type 2 charter school proposal. Before approving a Type 2 charter application, BESE would be required to examine the financial condition of the local school district and the likely impact a charter school would have on its finances and requires that the study be published on LDOE website allowing for public comment.

SB275 CURRICULA:  Requires cursive writing be taught in public schools. One of the sources of contention among the Common Core opposition. This one will be fun to watch.

HB879 SCHOOLS/CHARTER:  Prohibits for-profit operators of charter schools. This bill would put an end to operating charter schools for profit. Any management contracts in place by June 30, 2016 would remain in effect, but would not be able to be extended, or renewed.

BILLS THAT I OPPOSE

SB125 EDUCATION ACCOUNTABILITY:  Provides relative to the La. Competency-Based Education Program and the La. Education Assessment Program (LEAP) tests. Currently, the task of selecting and implementing standards based assessments is shared between BESE and LDOE. If passed, this bill would give the power to LDOE, alone.

HB185 PUBLIC EMPLOYEES:  Provides with respect to authorized payroll withholdings for public employees. Once again, an attempt to weaken teacher unions. As an educator, I strongly oppose this bill; even though I don’t 100% support unions. Unions are the primary representation of educators in the legislature. In their absence, the only effective voice is teachers “en masse.” When that happens, classrooms are left without qualified teachers, and that is what they want, so they can further criticize teachers.

HB281 EDUCATION:  Authorizes principals and local superintendents to request waivers of laws and regulations from the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Education reformers have already stripped powers away from the local school boards who represent the taxpayers. This bill would allow a superintended, or principal, to ask to be excluded from law and policy without running it by the local board.

HB392 TEACHERS/SALARY:  Provides relative to the reduction of teacher salaries under certain circumstances. Introduced by Rep. Nancy Landry, who happens to be the chair of the House Education Committee. This bill is yet another attack on the public school teacher and seeks to allow the reduction of a teacher’s salary for certain reasons. It opens the door for school district administrators to arbitrarily reassign teachers with punitive implications.

HB416 SCHOOLS/DISTRICTS:  (Constitutional Amendment) Provides for the election of a president of each local public school district and for his appointment, subject to school board approval, of the local superintendent. Yet another attempt to strip away control of the locally elected school board and places the primary authority of selecting a superintendent on the “elected” board president. This makes is more easier for education reformers to control the selection of a district superintendent.

HB443 SCHOOLS/DISTRICTS:  Provides for each local public school district to have a president elected by the qualified electors of the district. Essentially identical to the previous bill.

HB479 TEACHERS/EVALUATION:  Provides relative to the evaluation of teachers and administrators. Another bill that attempts to address the problems with the current teacher evaluation, but only addresses percentage of student growth and retains the value-added model.

HB543 TEACHERS/EVALUATION:  Provides relative to the value-added model used to evaluate teachers and administrators. Doesn’t address student growth percentage and only makes the value-added model “optional” instead of removing it.

HB874 EDUCATION ACCOUNTABILITY:  Provides relative to school and district accountability. Submitted by Rep. Nancy Landry and continues the attack on public school teachers. Rep. Landry didn’t author any bills of significance. She merely cleared up language in existing toxic laws just as she did in this one.

HB875 TEACHERS/EVALUATION:  Provides relative to the evaluation of teachers and administrators. Submitted by Nancy Landry. See previous bill.

HB871 SCHOOLS/CHARTER:  Provides relative to the instructional staff at a charter school. Submitted by Nancy Landry. Removes the requirement that charter school teacher have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree if the charter participates in a “credentialing” program with a local college/university.

BILLS THAT I AM WATCHING

HB217  TEACHERS/CERTIFICATION:  Provides for the granting of educational leadership certification by the State Bd. of Elementary and Secondary Education. This bill would require that anyone who is promoted to an administrative position meet certain requirements, including a masters degree in education.

SB342 TEACHERS:  Provides relative to the use of student growth data in teacher evaluations. Only addresses the types of assessments used for student growth in regards to teacher evaluations. Doesn’t change percentage and implies that value-added model must be part of it. Watching this one closely and will re-evaluate if amendments are made.

HB399 SCHOOLS/ADMINISTRATORS:  Provides relative to requirements for local school superintendents’ contracts. Removes the requirements for a superintendents contract as illustrated in Act 1 and makes them optional. Also removes requirement that contract be submitted to state superintendent. Note: State superintendent does not have authority to approve, or deny.

HB428 STUDENTS:  Prohibits local public school boards from requiring school uniforms for students. Exactly what it says. In actuality, I would probably oppose this, but it isn’t important enough, to me, right now. Just think it will be interesting to follow.

HB650 TEACHERS:  Provides relative to measures of effectiveness as a factor in teacher evaluations and salaries. Yet another bill addressing teacher evaluations. It doesn’t address all of the concerns; however it does separate compensation from evaluation and reduces student growth percentage. Certainly worth watching and following amendments.

HB673 SCHOOLS/CHOICE:  Provides for considerations of the State Bd. of Elementary and Secondary Education in its authorization of course choice providers. Submitted by Nancy Landry. Enough said. In principle, I can’t support any bill submitted by Rep. Landry; however, this one is worth watching because it places more responsibility on BESE to approve better providers.

HB723 TEACHERS/EVALUATION:  Provides relative to the use of student growth data in teacher evaluations. Another teacher evaluation bill worth watching. Removes references to value-added model, but leaves student growth percentage at 50%.

SB79SB81SB88SB89 TOPS:  All four of these bills are intended to revise and structure the TOPS program with the intention of keeping it in place while preventing it from spiraling out of control as it has in the past.

HB299 STUDENT/STANDARDS:  Provides for phased-in implementation of state content standards. I’m not certain about this one. Some education reformers have proclaimed that a major cause of Common Core’s failure was implementation. I disagree. This three year implementation; however, could likely be a good idea.

HB820 LOBBYING:  Provides certain prohibited conduct related to lobbying. This bill would place restrictions on the lobbying and coercive activities of non-profit organizations and lobbyist acting on their behalf. It may be a while before the true nature of this bill is revealed, but worth watching.