Posted: Mar 13, 2012 6:28 PM by Stephanie Ryan
Updated: Mar 13, 2012 6:39 PM
BATON ROUGE-- Many parents are in a bind, after East Baton Rouge schools called off Wednesday classes. The decision came around 9:00 Tuesday morning.
Nearly a third of teachers in East Baton Rouge Parish put in substitute requests for Wednesday. School system leaders say the roughly 1,050 educators will be at the State Capitol protesting Governor Bobby Jindal's education reform plan Wednesday morning.
That plan would provide vouchers to charter schools for kids in schools with a failing grade. It would also do away with tenure and base employment on performance in the classroom.
Interim Superintendent Carlos Sam said he had no choice but to call off school.
"We'd been monitoring the situation as early as Friday," Sam said, adding 500 teachers had put in substitute requests Friday.
Overnight, that number doubled. That, combined with a lack of substitute teachers, left safety concerns behind.
"Only about half those classes were covered with warm bodies, with adults," Sam said.
Teachers will not get a "free day." Instead, the will be required to show up for a professional development day. If the don't, they must either use a sick or personal day for their time off.
But some parents are now forced to take time off work to care for their children, who have nowhere else to go but school.
"I'm going to have to really miss work tomorrow. That's not right," Christopher Tucker told News 2. Around 3:00 Monday afternoon, he still had not heard about the decision.
Letters went home with every child, and multiple phone calls went out to every parent informing them of the cancellation, according to Sam.
Proponents of the reform plan think teachers should be in the classroom, not at the Capitol.
"There are a lot of other ways our teachers can show their concern, that they can protest. Leaving the classroom so close to [LEAP] testing, personally, I think, is the wrong thing to do," Kenneth Campbell with the Black Alliance for Educational Option said.
Marian Hinyard worked for years as a teacher. She is now a great-grandparent who helps care for her grandchildren in school. Even with the disruption in schedule, she supports the teachers' decision to rally at the Capitol.
"They should go," Hinyard said. "I think it's worth it, because it's their liveliehood."
So many teachers want their voices heard, and heard loudly. They do not believe Jindal's reform plan will improve classroom scores.
"This is about their profession. We cannot stand by, nor will they be able to do anything, nor will they even be in the classroom if we allow them to ruin public education, and that's what we see in that package," Joyce Haynes, President of the Louisiana Association of Educators, told News 2.
The meeting begins at 8:30 at the State Capitol.
BREC Parks will be equipped to handle extra children throughout the day.