Calcasieu Closes Schools, Teachers To Descend On Capitol Tomorrow

From the Lake Charles American Press

Calcasieu Parish Superintendent of Schools Wayne Savoy announced Monday morning that all public schools in the parish would be closed Tuesday due to “excessive employee absences.”

Teachers will be traveling to Baton Rouge to protest pending legislation regarding public education and express their opinions on the voucher system and tenure laws that was approved by the state House last week.

Calcasieu schools will reopen on Wednesday.

No specific action on the education reform package is set for tomorrow; the school choice bill (HB 976) was read in the Senate the first time and will likely be marked up in the Senate Education Committee at its next meeting (which won’t be tomorrow or Wednesday). So the teachers from Calcasieu, who were prompted by the unions to stage tomorrow’s sick-out/getaway to the Capitol at a meeting in Sulphur last week, will be staging a rally on the Capitol steps.

Sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Or maybe not a lot, but not quite nothing.

What could be interesting is what Brett Geymann, the Republican state rep from Lake Charles who voted against HB 976 and also HB 974, the teacher tenure bill, in Thursday’s House vote, will do when all the teachers from in and around his district show up. Geymann’s Facebook page has churned out pictures like this for a week…

Geymann’s Facebook page also included a relatively interesting exchange between some conservative activists and himself, in which he stated one important reason he didn’t support Jindal’s education reform package was…

 I voted against loss of local control of schools and against forcing us into a national curriculum that does not represent my conservative Christian values.

What Geymann was referring to specifically was the movement in the package toward Louisiana joining something called the Common Core Curriculum, which is a standardized educational system that would put the state in line with other states in terms of what subjects would be taught when during a student’s educational career. There are opponents of the Common Core Curriculum among some of the more hard-core Tea Party types who see it as a communist plot, or something, but the rationale for migrating to it among the school choice crowd is that since Louisiana doesn’t have the stroke with the companies who print the school textbooks that, say, Texas does, it makes education delivery significantly easier when Louisiana schools sign on to a delivery strategy that mirrors what other states will be doing.

Using the Common Core Curriculum also gives Louisiana a better opportunity to measure itself against other states also using it in terms of educational performance.

But Geymann didn’t like it, and that’s one reason he voted against the plan.

Will he address the crowd tomorrow? And if he does so, will he speak about the evils of the Common Core Curriculum as the reason why? Or will he just talk about how he’s at the Capitol fighting for the teachers?

Either way, it could be interesting.

Meanwhile, the folks supporting the school choice bill won’t likely be at the Capitol, or at least not for a good part of the day. They’ll be at the Governor’s Mansion…

“Education Reform in Louisiana”
hosted by The Heritage Foundation and The Pelican Institute for Public Policy
Tuesday, March 27, 2012

12:00 p.m. Luncheon and Panel Discussion
“Education Reform in Louisiana” featuring Lindsey Burke, The Heritage Foundation; Kevin Kane, Pelican Institute for Public Policy; Matthew Ladner, Foundation of Excellence in Education; John White, Louisiana Department of Education

It will likely be later this week before HB 976 gets its committee hearing in the Senate; the decision has been made to move that bill rather than Sen. Conrad Appel’s SB 597, which cleared the Senate Education Committee last week. HB 976 will be debated in two Senate committees, Finance and Education, before it goes to the floor for passage (and then in all likelihood goes to a conference committee). By the time it drags through those, the griping that Jindal is moving his package too quickly will likely fade away given that we’ll likely see several more hours of contentious hearings, grandstanding and flimsy arguments made by the educational establishment.

But for tomorrow, the action will be outside the Capitol rather than inside. And parents in Calcasieu Parish will have to disrupt their schedules to accomodate teachers who’ll be more interested in politics than working.



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