education overhaul

“I’m not a communist.”

But Senator Conrad Appel isn’t a happy camper, either. He took to the floor of the Senate Thursday to deliver a tirade directed toward Governor Bobby Jindal.

“You can call me a communist. You can call me a socialist fascist—that’s a good one,” Appel declared forcefully. “Anything you want to call me? Do it!”

New Orleans will soon become the first city with an all-charter school district, but the education landscape looks much different across the rest of Louisiana. Many parishes have few or no charter schools, but that's starting to change.

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 state's top school board has approved $2 million in financing to pay for students to take individual classes elsewhere if their public school is underperforming or doesn't offer a course they want.

The money for the "Course Choice" program will be drawn from a state education trust fund stemming from an old oil drilling settlement, including $1 million that had been slated for local districts.