Calcasieu teachers met at Sulphur High School Monday to discuss lobbying plans against Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's education reform package, which is making its way through the legislature.
"When someone's trying to bully me, there's safety in numbers. And I kind of feel like some is trying to bully me," said teacher Trevor Dean.
There is anger among the teachers that the reforms will take funds from the failing public education system and put them into private schools, and many see this as a direct threat to their jobs. Jindal plans to create a statewide voucher program which would enable children to attend private schools funded by tax dollars. It would also rework teacher pay and job protections, aiming to trim some of the excesses of tenure protection as highlighted in the recent Mark Berndt case and link teacher pay to student performance as many states are now seeking to do.
"If anyone believes that our children or our teachers should be judged by one standardized test – we have a problem Houston," said Joyce Haynes, LA Association of Educators President.
The meeting at Sulphur also had support from some students but the hall was far from packed.
Jindal's reforms are ratcheting up local tensions with the head of the House Democratic Caucus, John Edwards, recently claiming that a simple public-records request asking for emails he exchanged with the Louisiana Federation of Teachers was attempted intimidation of Jindal's critics. This seems somewhat of a stretch considering public record is exactly that. The LFT is a teacher's union opposed to Jindal's education reforms.
The teachers plan to march on the State Capitol March 27th. The Calcasieu Chapter of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers claims the package is unconstitutional and is preparing to file suit if it passes into law.