After an earlier ruling that discarded parts of an education reform package proposed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Baton Rouge judge has now ruled the complete package unconstitutional, forcing the Governor to go back to the drawing board.
Judge Michael Caldwell explained that the legislation was unconstitutional because it contained too many items spanning Louisiana’s education laws.
Caldwell had previously upheld three of the four sections of the law, including one that would make it more difficult for teachers to obtain job security and tenure.
The ruling however, has not dissuaded Jindal from his education reform plans.
“While the ruling does not judge the substance of the law, we're disappointed that the court reversed its original ruling,” Jindal said in a written statement. “We expect to prevail in the state Supreme Court.”
He continued explaining that they expected a fight from opponents of the legislature.
"When we embarked on this path of reform, we knew this would not be an easy fight because the coalition of the status quo is entrenched and has worked to hold Louisiana teachers and students back for decades,” Jindal continued.
Opponents of the bill have been very vocal in their opposition of the bill, claiming Jindal is violating laws in order to move his agenda forward.
“Gov. Jindal clearly has no interest in following the rule of law. He is too busy with his national political pursuits to care about Louisiana's constitution,” State Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, said in the statement. "Since I took office, I continue to put Louisiana's families and Louisiana's workers first. I invite the Governor to join me.”
Among some of the items in the legislature that Caldwell has discarded with this ruling include the following:
• The lessening of the power of local school boards in hiring and firing practices and decisions.
• Requirements for the state superintendent to review local school superintendent contracts.
• Removal of seniority-based protections for teachers during layoffs.
• Toughening the path for teachers to reach tenure status.
• Striking down a statewide salary schedule for teachers.
Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan, while happy that the bill was struck down, expressed more satisfaction in the judicial process.
“When the bill was filed, we knew it was unconstitutional. It's very affirming to have that expressed from the bench,” Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan said to the Advertiser.
He continued stating that this will give the legislature the opportunity to fix the mistakes made on the first go around.
“Legislators will have an opportunity to remedy what was done very, very poorly in the last session,” Monaghan said to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Daniel Duerden is a writer and content editor for 360 Education Solutions