Act 1

It’s been nearly two years since Louisiana’s Legislature passed a package of highly-controversial education reforms. Since then, there has been confusion at the local school level and angst for teachers -- especially over changes to teacher pay and tenure under a new evaluation process. Courts have ruled some of the reforms violate the state constitution. Many are now saying the upcoming legislative session is the opportune time for a “do-over” on education reform.

The Jindal administration and the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, a union, got to take a second bite of 2012’s Act 1 when the state Supreme Court sent the issue of the law’s constitutionality back to district court for a re-hearing.

19th District Judge R. Michael Caldwell says the apple is still poisoned, ruling again that the measure, sometimes called the “teacher tenure law”, is unconstitutional.

The Louisiana Supreme Court has asked a Baton Rouge district judge to review his decision to throw out Gov. Bobby Jindal's revamp of teacher tenure and salary laws – called Act 1.

Judge Michael Caldwell had ruled that the legislation was unconstitutional because it bundled together too many items spanning Louisiana's education laws.

19th District Court, Baton Rouge, La.
Amy Jeffries / WRKF

A state judge has thrown out rules passed last session tying teacher tenure and pay to classroom performance. Monday's decision is a turnaround from the same judge’s previous ruling.

In December, Judge Michael Caldwell threw out parts of what’s been called the “Teacher Tenure Act,” – parts that didn’t directly address teacher tenure, but made rules for school boards, visiting teachers, superintendents and principals.

That day, the governor touted the ruling as a success because it kept his tenure overhauls. Now the judge is saying the whole thing has to go. 

State Superintendent of Education John White is advocating refinements to “Compass” – the program created by 2010 legislation to reform how public school teachers are evaluated. The changes stem from teacher input.
 

Louisiana Federation of Teachers president Steve Monaghan (far left) speaking with reporters outside the state courthouse in Baton Rouge, Dec. 18, 2012.
Amy Jeffries / WRKF

A state judge has upheld legislation tying teachers’ pay and tenure to their performance in the classroom. Gov. Bobby Jindal pushed for the changes as part of his education overhaul.

Judge Michael Caldwell tossed out provisions of the same act that removed authority over hiring and firing decisions from local school boards, and required state reviews of district superintendent contracts.

Hundreds of teachers protest Act 1 at the capitol April 4, 2012.
Ashley Westerman / WRKF

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Last spring at the capitol, thousands of public school teachers rallied against the bill that would tie their pay and tenure to performance through an evaluation system, which was rolled out at the start of this school year.

A state judge says he will rule Tuesday on whether Act 1 was passed in violation of Louisiana’s constitution.