Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Governor Jindal Attempts to Suppress Educators & Thousands Push Back to Make Their Voices Heard
Thousands of education stakeholders flooded the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol Wednesday, but a majority of the teachers, support professionals, administrators – even parents and students – who showed up, were forced to remain outside on the Capitol steps due to the governor’s orders of closing down alternative entrances into the building.
“They wouldn’t let people in because they said the committee rooms were full, but it looked like Governor Jindal was trying to keep educators out of the room during his testimony,” said LAE President Joyce Haynes. “If he really believed in his plan, then he should have taken this opportunity to stand before educators and put it all out on the table; instead, he chose to lock us out of the process.”
School employees from across the state came together in Baton Rouge to speak against the governor’s extreme education agenda brought forth in House Bill 976. The bill calls for taking public tax dollars and turning them over to for-profit charter schools. It also calls for the expansion of a statewide school choice program. Educators want to know why the governor is demanding a rush to vote on such complex legislation that impacts the future of Louisiana’s public schools.
“It is the Legislature’s responsibility to schedule a fair hearing process that allows us to offer input on those bills that affect us,” said Haynes.
U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu sided with school employees as she spoke out against the rush. She agrees that the governor is moving outrageously fast to try to win committee approval for his plan.
"If this is such a great reform package, it should be able to stand the test of review. This is a democracy. This isn't a dictatorship," Landrieu said in an interview.
Educators could not agree more. Several school systems across the state closed so that educators could attend the hearings and advocate on behalf of their school districts. Attendees said they would rather be in the classrooms with their students, but when the intent is to attack hard working professionals by proposing to dismantle neighborhood schools through privatization, teachers will stand up to defend their students and their careers.
“We were forced to attend on a school day,” said Haynes. “Legislators should have made the appropriate move to schedule these hearings when education employees are available to attend, like in the evenings or on the weekends.”
The decision to close schools was made by school boards and administrators, many of whom joined teachers and support professionals at the Capitol in opposition to the legislation.