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La. Governor Says Panel's Plan Provides a Blueprint for Schools

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Gov. Edwin W. Edwards of Louisiana has endorsed an ambitions list of more than 100 recommendations by a citizens' panel on the schools as providing the blueprint for his new administration's approach to education.

The recommendations, issued last month, include calls for mandating a health-education program, providing more flexibility for successful school districts, and reforming the state school-finance system to provide more funding for low-wealth districts.

The panel also urged revisions in the controversial teacher-evaluation program established by former Gov. Buddy Roemer, which was bitterly opposed by the state's two major teachers' unions.

During his gubernatorial campaign last fall, Mr. Edwards avoided discussing specific changes in the evaluation program, promising only that he would seek a system aimed at helping teachers improve rather than punishing them for poor performance.

That was enough to gain him the backing of the teachers' unions, however, both in the nonpartisan primary against Governor Roemer and in the runoff election against the state legislator and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. (See Education Week, Oct. 30, 1991.)

At a news conference last month after receiving the recommendations, Mr. Edwards vowed that "my commitment to education is unfailing."

The Governor noted, however, that he must contend with a projected $900-million deficit for fiscal year 1993 and made clear that he would make no promises on new spending.

Mr. Edwards said that he would convene an education summit next week for the heads of the state's major companies to discuss vocational education and workforce needs.

In addition, the Governor said he had asked his staff to identify statutes that are "obsolete, cumbersome, duplicative, or conflicting" in an attempt to provide school districts with more flexibility and less regulation, while maintaining accountability.

Other Recommendations

Other recommendations by the citizens' panel included proposals to:

  • Establish an office for children to coordinate services for children and families.
  • Increase spending on at-risk children.
  • Locate services for children and youths within or near schools.
  • Form a clearinghouse to provide information on successful education programs and innovations.
  • Establish an office of educational technology for the implementation of reforms using technology.
  • Convene a statewide conference next fall on innovations in education.
  • Boost teacher competence by encouraging collaborations between public schools and colleges of teacher education and by providing more professional-development time and mentors for teachers.--M.P.

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