Monday, July 25, 2011

St. Helena Judge Says No to BESE and Yes Parish Educators in Funding Dispute

School Board, Union Funding Formula Lawsuit Moves Forward in Legal Proceedings

A state district court judge ruled Monday that a lawsuit brought forth by the St. Helena Parish Association of Educators (SHPAE) and the St. Helena Parish School Board can proceed to trial.

“We applaud Judge Fields on this decision,” says Plaintiff Attorney Brian F. Blackwell of Blackwell & Associates. “The state made an illegal move by depriving the school district of much needed dollars. Drastic action needs to be taken in order to ensure that this money is restored.”

Earlier this year, four St. Helena Parish teachers sued the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and the Superintendent of Education, claiming the state illegally included parish sales tax revenue in figuring the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) formula - the primary mechanism through which the state funds public education. In April, the St. Helena Parish Association of Educators and the St. Helena Parish School Board joined the suit.

“The suit alleges that between 2007 and 2011, the formula adopted by BESE effectively reduced the state’s funding obligation to the St. Helena Parish School Board by more than $2.4 million,” says Blackwell. “Statewide, the suit alleges that the same formula effectively reduced the state’s funding obligation under the MFP by nearly $3 billion during the same period of time.”

Both BESE and the superintendent claimed that suit should be dismissed for a variety of reasons, but Judge Wilson Fields disagreed. Following Monday’s ruling, Mr. Blackwell said that he intends to vigorously pursue action.

“We intend to gather all of the evidence necessary to win this very important case as expeditiously as possible,” he said.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

National Teacher Day 2011!!

It's National Teacher Day and LAE President Mrs. Joyce Haynes has a special message for all teacher and ESP members! Check it out...


Thursday, April 28, 2011

LAE Chastises Chas Roemer’s Push To Abolish Teacher Tenure

Statements Regarding Tenure Are An Inaccurate Portrayal of Teacher Due Process Rights

The Louisiana Association of Educators rejects Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) member Chas Roemer’s recent statements pushing for an abolishment of teacher tenure.

“Tenure is not the guarantee of a job for life,” says LAE President Joyce Haynes. “Tenure is simply a right to due process and provides job security for teachers who have successfully completed a rigorous and closely monitored process.”

Roemer sent letters to all BESE members and state lawmakers last week, asking for a written pledge that they will work to end teacher tenure. Roemer is pushing for a plan to eliminate tenure, fire thousands of teachers, and give a merit raise only to the top 25 percent of public school teachers in the state. LAE believes that Roemer is on the wrong track. His belief that education is a simple world of just two variables diminishes the complexities of all schools and undermines the craft of teaching in the midst of a multi-variant system.

Roemer should have asked LAE leaders or Louisiana teachers the question, “Why tenure?” Any teacher in the state would have told him that tenure simply guarantees a process of just dismissal; protection from false allegations of wrongdoing; and coercive education practices such as grade altering, as well as protection from political reprisals. This last point is important because Roemer’s missive to eliminate teacher tenure was a political campaign piece paid for by his campaign fund.

We believe - and Roemer seems to agree - that the vast majority of teachers are high quality. He has proven to under appreciate teachers and their craft. As a BESE member, Roemer has never advocated for even an increase in the MFP during his entire tenure on the board.

We challenge Roemer’s proposal to punish thousands of hardworking teachers in Louisiana in order to capture nearly $115 million in salaries only to redistribute this money to the top 25 percent.

In a 2008 Time Magazine article, M.J. Stephy wrote, “Abolishing tenure doesn't address problems of underfunding, overcrowding or improving students' home environments.” LAE agrees.

For more information go to

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

LAE Joins Forces With New Education Think Tank

Coalition for Louisiana Public Education

To help us in our ongoing fight for public education, LAE has joined forces with a new, innovative think tank called the Coalition for Louisiana Public Education.

This group brings together leaders from LSBA, LASE, LASS, LRTA and several other organizations. It is vital for us to work in conjunction with other groups who have the same interests as we do - we all want to have a voice, we all want to collaborate and we are all fighting to save public education.

For more information on this new endeavor, go to:

Also, be sure to support the group by becoming a fan on facebook.Click the following link to head to the page:

Together, we will persevere through the adversity we face!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


The annual LAE-RA is this weekend (Saturday, April 2nd – Sunday, April 3rd). We are hosting a movie night and will be showing the documentary, Race to Nowhere. The film addresses the issue of high stakes testing and what it’s doing to our students.

Movie night starts at 6:30 PM on Saturday, 4/2. Even if you aren’t a delegate, we invite you to come to the Marriot (5500 Hilton Avenue), sit in the audience and take part in the conversation. Don’t miss your chance to see this powerful film, which serves as the counter argument to Waiting for “Superman.” To get a sneak peek, go to

See you there!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


The 2011 Legislative Session is right around the corner. We’ve seen what other states are currently facing, but what can we expect here in Louisiana? We’ve broken out the seven biggest issues facing Louisiana educators in the 2011 Legislative Session.

1. Funding: Louisiana ranks 30th out of the 50 states for the overall revenue provided to school districts. The state receives a “D” grade for our regressive funding system (which provides more funding to wealthy districts than to poor districts).

LAE plans to push for ways to broaden the tax base, close loopholes and examine the widespread use of tax credits and exemptions that plague the state’s level of revenue and the overall fairness of the tax system. In order for a wise and prudent investment in K-12 and higher public education to be sustainable, Louisiana policymakers must evaluate and reform the current tax structure.

2. Teacher tenure: There are already aggressive efforts in several other states to eliminate due process rights for teachers. You can expect to see those same efforts surface here in Louisiana. In recent education committee hearings, tenure has been referred to as a barrier and a hindrance to student growth.

At the public K-12 level, tenure does not guarantee a job for life; tenure rewards teachers for being effective in the classroom. LAE will push to maintain and strengthen due process provisions regarding contractual, statutory and constitutional rights for all public school employees.

3. Retirement: LAE anticipates a continued effort to move the current Teacher Retirement System of Louisiana from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan. Research indicates that converting the TRSL retirement plan to a defined contribution plan would be much more costly than maintaining the current defined benefit plan.

LAE will aggressively oppose any attempts to eliminate the current TRSL defined benefit plan. TRSL benefits provide economic security for tens of thousands of retirees and support the economic activity/output of Louisiana. Secured pensions from the TRSL defined benefit plan help the state recruit quality teachers who educate future Louisiana workers.

4. Red Tape Reduction Act: LAE expects Governor Jindal to propose legislation to amend Act 921 which would strike “teacher approval” from the school/district waiver law. This would allow districts to waive laws pertaining to teacher tenure, class size and instructional time, as well as the student discipline curriculum without teacher approval.

LAE will fight any legislation that would reduce a teacher’s participation and input in the school district’s decision making process on a waiver of any state laws under Title 17.

5. Charter schools: Governor Jindal has recently come out in support of a proposal for businesses to team up with charter schools by allowing a business to provide a “facility or land” for the school and fill half the seats in the school with children of the business operators. The proposal would also have a minority percentage of the seats on the governing board filled by the business operator.

Public schools should not be run like a business. LAE strongly opposes any plan that would turn public schools over to for-profit companies. Privatization is a failed approach that provides an inferior education to our students.

6. Student discipline: LAE anticipates proposed legislation that would “dumb down” the current student discipline law, teacher bill of rights and student assault on a teacher.

It is vital to maintain orderly schools and provide programs to eliminate violence, verbal and physical abuse to students and education employees. Any violence directed at staff or students must be dealt with swiftly, and those involved should be immediately removed from the classroom.

7. Student-based budgeting: We anticipate a proposal to overhaul the way Louisiana would finance 1,300 public schools in the state. Proposed financing would require school districts to let the money follow the students, giving school principals sole-authority on how to spend federal, state and local education dollars without a site-based committee/board.

LAE is currently conducting extensive research around the student-based budgeting concept. Even though student-based budgeting is not new to the national scene, it is a relatively new concept to Louisiana.

Be sure to visit our website,  as the session approaches for updates on these and other legislative issues!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

LAE Shows Support for Colleagues in Wisconsin

Board members Vickie Jacquet and Rachel Gifford rally for Wisconsin during a trip to Washington D.C.

The NEA family has come out in full force to support our colleagues in Wisconsin, as well as those in Idaho, Indiana, New Jersey, Ohio and Tennessee, who are also facing unprecedented threats.

Governor Scott Walker’s proposed legislation strips away worker rights and destroys the collaborative partnerships that have been established between labor and management in Wisconsin – the nation's oldest collective bargaining state. The protest is not about pay and benefits; it’s not about pensions and health care. This protest is about public sector employees retaining a voice in their profession and Wisconsin's future.

The people of Wisconsin are asking the governor and legislature to hear them out - and work with them to find bipartisan solutions that will address Wisconsin's challenges. Silencing the voices of public sector employees by busting up their unions is not a going to help the state move forward; it will only divide its people.
What is happening right now is historic. Tens of thousands of citizens are gathering in unprecedented numbers and speaking out to show their support for the state's public servants. They are voicing support for the third grade teacher who stays late to help a student with math. They are voicing support for nurses who work every day to care for patients and the firefighters who keep us safe. These public workers are on the front-lines everyday to support us - and they should have a say in their profession.
As all eyes continue to be on Wisconsin, LAE urges you to stay informed. Remember to talk about our collective fights and the attacks on the hard working teachers and public sector employees of our nation.  Lend your voice to help us fight this battle. LAE has sent a letter of support to the WEAC team; we encourage you to do the same. Email President Mary Bell ( with any words of encouragement. Sign any petitions in favor of collective bargaining and public sector workers. You can start by logging onto NEA’s Education Votes website Email information about local or state solidarity actions to Wear “Red for Ed" every Tuesday this spring. Spread the word in any way you can.

We are leaders in this national fight for working people. We are in this fight together; let's take action together. We need to win this fight for educators and public sector employees across the nation.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Governor’s Plan to Freeze School Aid Is Wrong Approach to Filling State Budget Shortfalls

Louisiana educators are upset with Governor Jindal’s plan to recommend a third consecutive freeze in state aid for public schools.

“We think it’s time the governor dealt with state financing in a responsible way,” says Louisiana Association of Educators President Joyce Haynes. “The three year freeze will cost Louisiana’s public schools close to $200 million in recurring revenues.”

Teachers, parents and community members need Penny Dastugue and the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to step up to the plate, too.

“The BESE board has one of two options. They can continue to be instruments of the governor or they can be representatives of the people,” says Haynes.

The BESE board has the authority to do what’s right for the public school students and the communities which depend upon their decision making. BESE, with a mixture of governor appointees and elected members, should have the courage to represent public schools and stand up to the governor.

“Public school students don’t have the luxury to wait on the governor,” says Haynes. “They need action and consideration now!”

This isn’t the first time Governor Jindal has slighted public school funding. In December of 2010, he made a $42 million error in the MFP when he failed to account for increases in student population.
He also shorted the state’s K-12 and higher education systems another $68 million when he redirected the Federal Education Jobs grant. To date, districts still have not received the $79 million residue from the $147 million originally approved for Louisiana K-12 public schools.

“Our state’s budget is hurting and we have a governor who continues to give billions of dollars in tax exemptions to big business; paying little attention to the needs of public school children. Enough is enough,” says Haynes.

Earlier this year, Louisiana House Speaker Jim Tucker implicated that legislators will consider suspending some of the $7 billion in tax exemptions as they search for ways to close the $1.6 billion budget hole. LAE is on board with the notion of requesting tax changes – anything to secure the funding of our valuable public services. LAE will ask the Legislature to go further and reduce exemptions by 3 billion dollars.

“We need to spend half of the money that the state could receive as a result of these exemptions and properly fund such governmental services as public schools, both Pre-K-12 and our public higher education institutions, social services and public safety,” says Haynes.

We look forward to Governor Jindal presenting his proposed operating budget during the 2011 regular legislative session. LAE intends to engage their membership and seek a broader coalition for their proposals.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

LAE Endorses Nathan Granger for State Senate District 26


We've endorsed Nathan Granger for the State Senate District 26 seat. The decision was made by a joint screening and recommendation committee who interviewed Granger and opponent Jonathan Perry. The committee recommended Granger for the seat and submitted the recommendation to the LAE Fund for Children and Public Education (FCPE) at the beginning of February.

“We are pleased that the LAE-FCPE approved our recommendation to endorse Nathan Granger,” explains Vermilion Association of Educators President Jason Roy. “We feel extremely confident in our decision to support Mr. Granger for the District 26 seat.”

The State Senate District 26 seat encompassing Acadia, Lafayette, St. Landry and Vermilion parishes was recently vacated by Nick Gautreaux. Local educators from the parishes within District 26 gathered to interview and recommend candidates. Each candidate answered questions from the committee on various topics including school funding, teacher accountability, educator due process rights and retirement.

“Both candidates interviewed well, but the committee ultimately made the decision to recommend Mr. Granger to the LAE-FCPE because we believe he best understands our issues as public educators,” says Roy. “He shows the most support for public education in our area and state.”

Early voting begins on February 5th and ends on February 12th. Election Day for Senate District 26 is Saturday, February 19, 2011.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


New Orleans Saints Wide Reciever Devery Henderson joins the LAE family for Read Across America 2010!

 Share your love of reading with kids across Louisiana on Saturday, February 26th, 2011! Mark your calendars and don't forget to join us for Read Across Louisiana 2011.
Read Across Louisiana is the state affiliate project of the National Education Association’s Read Across America, an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child, in every community to celebrate reading on March 2nd (the birthday of beloved children's author Dr. Seuss). The annual initiative provides parents, caregivers and children with the resources they need to keep reading on the calendar 365 days a year. In order to gear up for Read Across America Day on March 2nd, we’ll be hosting celebrations across Louisiana on Saturday, February 26th.

Our Baton Rouge area celebration kicks off at 10 AM at the Mall of Louisiana. Join LAE and LPB for a fun-filled day of reading, educational activities and giveaways. You’ll even have the chance to read alongside some of Baton Rouge’s biggest superstars including WBRZ-TV Meteorologist Dave Nussbaum, EATEL Community Connection host Jenny Heroman, Mayor-President Kip Holden and many more. Also be sure to look into other celebrations happening across the state on 2/26:

Alexandria: Alexandria Mall - 3437 Masonic Drive, Alexandria, LA
Bossier City: The Louisiana Boardwalk - 540 Boardwalk, Bossier City, LA
Lake Charles: Prien Lake Mall - 496 West Prien Lake Road, Lake Charles, LA
Lafayette: Mall of Acadiana - 5725 Johnston Street, Lafayette, LA
Monroe: Pecanland Mall - 4700 Milhaven Road #200 - Monroe, LA

Dont' forget to come out to celebrate the wonderful worlds that reading opens up for the children of Louisiana! And remember…

“You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child!”

Visit for more information!