Law & Courts

La. K-12 Overhaul Hits New Barrier

By Stephen Sawchuk — March 11, 2013 1 min read

In the latest rebuff to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education overhaul effort, a Louisiana judge has struck down a 2012 law remaking teacher tenure and pay in the Pelican State, declaring it unconstitutional for taking on too many subjects in the scope of one measure.

Jindal administration officials said they will appeal last week’s ruling to the state Supreme Court.

The law, Act 1, was signed last April. It required districts to tether teacher pay to new evaluation systems beginning in January of this year, required layoffs to be based on performance rather than seniority, and granted tenure only to teachers identified as “effective” on their evaluations for five years in a six-year period.

The Louisiana Federation of Teachers had challenged the law in court, and initially Judge Michael Caldwell upheld the sections dealing with teacher quality. But he agreed to revisit his ruling after the union and state officials requested a review.

This is the second blow to the Republican governor’s education package. Parts of Act 2, which expanded a state voucher program, were deemed unconstitutional last November.

“When the bill was filed, we knew it was unconstitutional,” said LFT President Steve Monaghan. “It’s very affirming to have that expressed from the bench.”

In a statement, Gov. Jindal accused his opponents of trying to stall efforts to improve teacher quality and student performance.

“While the ruling does not judge the substance of the law, we’re disappointed that the court reversed its original ruling. We expect to prevail in the state Supreme Court,” Gov. Jindal said in a statement. “The coalition of the status quo is attempting to use every legal obstruction to block reforms that reward good teachers and give more choices to families.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this article.
A version of this article appeared in the March 13, 2013 edition of Education Week as La. K-12 Overhaul Hits New Barrier

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