Governor Edwards pushes education package
BATON ROUGE- Closing loopholes for some voucher students and eliminating corporal punishment for disabled children are some of Governor John Bel Edwards' proposals for the upcoming legislative session. The administration released its education package in a news release Tuesday afternoon.
Edwards is supporting a bill by State Representative Franklin Foil (R-Baton Rouge) which would make it illegal for teachers to use corporal punishment on students with disabilities. "This bill makes it clear that there are better and more appropriate ways to meet the behavioral needs of children with disabilities," said Foil.
In another proposal, Edwards wants flexibility in the amount of instruction time for schools impacted by disasters. The state board of education requires 360 minutes of instruction time a day, a difficult task for schools damaged in the 2016 August and March floods.
"Schools were forced to operate in the few buildings that were available and as a result, different schools had to hold some classes in the morning and others in the afternoon," said the bill's sponsor Rep. Ed Price (D-Gonzales). "There was no way the students could fulfill their class time obligations."
The bill would require school districts to apply for the exemption and work in good faith towards meeting the state standard.
Edwards also supports a senate bill to end vouchers for kindergarten students who would otherwise attend A and B rated schools. The administration said vouchers are meant for students who attend C, D and F rated schools.
"This puts kindergartners, who are among our most vulnerable students and require additional attention, on a level playing field with other children who participate in the voucher program," said the bills sponsor Sen. Dan Morrish (R-Jennings).
In another proposal, Edwards wants to give school districts more flexibility in teacher evaluations. The house bill would reduce the role of the Value-Added Assessment Model (VAM), a state required assessment tool which has been criticized by teacher groups for not accurately evaluating instructors.
"The Value-Added Model of teacher evaluation was put in place several years ago with the idea that it would be an effective method of evaluation," said Rep. Hoffmann (R-West Monroe) who will sponsor the bill. "Since then, there have been several concerns about the accuracy and consistency of this process."
Louisiana's legislative session begins April 10th and runs to June 8th. Edwards' full legislative agenda for the 2017 Regular Legislative Session will be unveiled throughout the week. The education agenda can be found here and will be updated throughout the week with additional proposals from the governor.