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Lessons From Louisiana: Go Big or Go Home

On April 4th, after months of hard work, FreedomWorks activists celebrated as the Louisiana State Senate finally passed HB976 and HB974, two bills that mark a historic overhaul of the state’s education system.

The HB976 legislation creates a market-based school choice system, creating vouchers for children to escape failing schools and allowing an easier pathway to creation of charter schools with a “parent trigger” program.  The HB974 legislation completely overhauls the teacher tenure system in Louisiana, rewarding only effective educators and provides financial incentives for those performing above expectation.  HB974 also eliminates “automatic” teacher tenure for new teachers entering the school service.     

These reforms eliminate two untouchable sacred cows of union power—voucher control and tenure.  

What the victory in Louisiana shows is that real education reform is supported by an overwhelming number of people who are no longer willing to accept the status quo.  Louisiana has set historic precedent this week, demonstrating to the rest of the nation that it is possible to get complete overhaul of a system, something deemed impossible up until now.  

School choice advocates have been advancing small reforms incrementally over time, taking small bites at the apple, rather than one big chunk.  With the passage of HB974 and HB976 and the likely passage of the four other pieces of proposed legislation, Governor Jindal has made history doing what many considered impossible.

Looking ahead to other states and other school choice battles, reform advocates should be inspired to reach for larger, more aggressive reforms. Once considered unbeatable, education union bosses are slowly being broken down.  Each time a new school choice bill becomes law, the union’s stranglehold on the system is loosed just a little.  Other governors should take notice, especially those with bills being fought by legislators who are lost in the fog of special interests.  

Governors like Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Governor Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania.   These governors sit idly by as their legislators work on reform bills. In South Carolina, HB4894 recently passed the House for the first time in the state’s history, and a long fight is expected in the Senate.

Reflecting on the victory in Louisiana, these two governors should follow Governor Jindal’s display of committed leadership and be bold.  Governors: Push your legislators to act, do not allow failure.  If you fail to lead, your constituents will take notice and replace you with someone else who will.

As for us, we must not rest on this one victory. We must continue pushing forward, keeping the momentum from Louisiana and building off of it. There are many lessons to be learned from our grassroots efforts this time around, what worked, what didn’t. This movement is spreading, and cannot be stopped.  The match has been struck, the spark is now a fire, and it’s us who must not let it go out…

Jeffery May

Amen thank's to all the folks that helped make this happen. Good to see our children are not getting a fighting chance to succeed.

jacob bagnell

get government and unions out of public schools. i wish when we get a president who cares about kids he would get rid of the dept of education. it is the biggest dept in DC. and is the reason for the money problem in schools. they take money from taxpayers that should go to public schools,pay thousands employees [dept of education] and give what is left through stupid reform measures back to public schools. the public must seperate teachers and unions. teacher tenure is not a bad thing if used the way it was intended. it is not to protect bad teachers but to help a good teacher who might not agree with a radical parent or a bad administrator. when i taught in california i worked 6 classes by my own choice and was paid for 5. the extra money was used for equipment in my autoshop. after several years the union found out and they told me i was a bad teacher and the good teachers were upset. the union put pressure on the school district so i was forces to stop. this happened to a couple of my friends also. this is why there is tenure. another major problem are parents who dont controll their kids. those kids make it hard for the kids who do want to learn. there would be more controll in classrooms if many administrators would do their job before a classroom gets out of controll. last thing is dont allow kids to bring cell phones to school. everyone has a share in a quality school.

Evan Pallesen

My mother was a public school teacher. My wife is a public school teacher. They are woman of excellence (and prayer). Be careful about bashing the public schools and those who teach in them - the majority are people of integrity who are trying to give the kids their best. That said, I home schooled my children for several years because the public schools (in New Zealand) at that time could not keep my eldest daughter safe - At 5 years old she was missing from class for two hours and was sexually assaulted by an older female student.

Jeffrey Walters

All well and good, but don't celebrate yet. The teacher's unions will definitely be taking this to their liberal friends in the U.S. appellate court system. You can bet it will be overturned like every reform that makes sense always is.

Mike Maag

Way to go to everybody who made these legislative efforts successful!!!!!!!

Brian Rudzevich

Great news!

Joseph Hunt

I am so Proud of Louisiana...... Governor Jindal school reforms are just what the doctor I can send my kids to a school that does not teach the Gay Life Style as mandated by Obama. They can get a "real" education, NOT the Obama Muslim, hate America, tell the parents what their kids should eat left-wing union teachers.

Glo Conlin

In 2009 Louisiana received $579,592,000 and $128,956,000 funding from U.S. Department of Education's "Race to the Top" program. Charter schools and RSD schools were set up in New Orleans. As of now charter schools and RSD schools have 16 successful schools and 78 failed. Where the money is is questionable. At one charter school in Jefferson Parish, Jefferson Community School gets $87,000 a year per student. Do you know why you do not know this? Because the DOE changed the school scores on their web site! They left off a lot of RSD schools that have closed already.

Aymen Ben Achour

Mr. Hunt, although i agree with the fact that it's great that parents can now send their kids where they want and avoid secular mandated teachings imposed by the federal government, i must correct you on your claim that Obama is a Muslim or even pro Islam. In fact, he is farther than a Christian or a Jew can be from a Muslim. Islam condemns Gays, and their lifestyle is one of the three unforgivable sins along side of denying God's existence and suicide. This is one of many proofs that he is not affiliated with Islam. Either way, he needs to go, because we should not have a president who does not follow Christian Values in a Christian founded nation and government. We should revert back to following the constitution and allowing freedom of religion and the practice of it for all citizens, as long as it is within laws dictated by the moral absolutes set by our Creator as referred to in our constitution and declaration of independence.

Richard Wilbourn

So a person who opposes the gay agenda and lifestyle; the Muslim agenda and its anti-western, anti-woman philosophy; and the idea that America owes the world a big apology - that person is a bigot?????
How 'bout this alternative view. A person who thinks it is anti-education to give Louisiana parents the choice to opt-out of a poorly performing (by just about every measure) public education system must be delusional or a moron. Which are you?

twin3383's picture
Patricia Hegger

Are you a bigot? Big time.

Glo Conlin

How can Freedom Works, a conservative web site support Governor Bobby Jindal’s education plan that is the U.S. Department of Education's "Race to the Top" program?
The program, created in the economic stimulus law, part of Democratic President Barack Obama's efforts to overhaul the nation's schools. John White, DOE
Superintendent is from Chicago, and good friends with Arnie Duncan, Obama’s head of Education.

The Obama administration is trying to drive their social justice agenda into the public schools through coercion and overreach. Texas, Governor Rick Perry would not take the money or the program .Texas won't seek 'Race to the Top' education funding
Texas: "We don't have broad consensus on every issue facing our school system ... we'd rather work those differences out in Texas with solutions that work for Texans instead of accepting a top down mandate from some distant bureaucrats."

In 2009 Louisiana received $579,592,000 and $128,956,000 funding from U.S. Department of Education's "Race to the Top" program.

Charter schools and RSD schools were set up in New Orleans. As of now charter schools and RSD schools have 16 successful schools and 78 failed. Where the money is is questionable. At one charter school in Jefferson Parish, Jefferson Community School gets $87,000 a year per student. Questionable? and it goes on and on.

Yesterday a LA state senator told his fellow senator that the charter schools in New Orleans are successful, he just did not mention the RSD schools, rather misleding. I am a Republican, conservative, but I am so disappointed in Jindal. Whe I told some Texas Tea Party Republicans, they were so disappointed in Jindal.

twin3383's picture
Patricia Hegger

I agree teachers should not have tenure. However, I bet this reform does nothing to help resolve the mess in our educational system. The problems are complex and charter schools and breaking the unions won't resolve the problems. Corruption will be chased out of the unions and to those who will profit from charter schools. Studies do not indicate charter schools are necessarily successful. Some may be but these laws won't fix the problem. I wish I were wrong.

Clarence Young

Fact: Generations of the poor and ignorant have been created by the NEA and teacher unions who, truth be told, do not give a damn about education. It is all about their tenure, salaries, and never anything else. Now, we have a state which has done something truly grand in fixing this problem - giving parents a choice as to where to send their children to school, and putting an end to an evil, corrupt, union grip on their minds. What would Jesus do you nitwit? He would have ended this debacle decades ago. Shame on you!

Joseph Hunt

Your NO are a Left-wing union dog.....

Betty Wall

Within4 years Louisiana public schools will be bankrupt and the poor and ignorant will be the ones hurt. Most of these changes for freedom of choice are being brought by Conservative Christians. My questions are, " What would Jesus do? Would He leave these students or would He stay and try to help them? Are Cristian students too good to stay in public schools? What is the message being sent?" We will see a return to segregated schools in Louisiana and their is not ample research based data to prove that Charter Schools and/or Private Schools are better than Public Schools. We must pray and ask for God's guidance!