Both education bills backed by Gov. Bobby Jindal have passed the House.

House gives final OK to voucher bill

Legislation that would expand eligibility for some low-income students to attend private and parochial schools cleared its final legislative hurdle Thursday morning.

The House passed the measure 60-42, going along with minor changes the Senate made Wednesday night before it approved the bill.

The proposal, House Bill 976, is a chief part of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s public schools agenda, and roared through the Legislature in barely three weeks.

It represents one of Jindal’s biggest legislative wins since he began his first term in January, 2008.

Under the plan, low-income students attending “C,” “D” and “F” schools would be eligible for state aid to attend private and parochial schools.

Students in “D” and “F” schools would have priority.

Jindal says the bill offers students and familes a way out of struggling public schools.

Opponents contend the measure is unconstitutional because it would redirect state school aid — called the Minimum Foundation Program — to help finance tuition at private schools.

While 380,000 students would be eligibile state officials say they expect about 2,000 to apply initially.

Exactly what accountability rules students and schools that take part in the program would face will be decided by Louisiana’s top school board.

The bill would also pave the way for more charter schools, which are public schools overseen by nongovernmental boards.

It would allow universities, nonprofits and community groups to become charter school authorizers, if they met state requirements.

The bill passed the Senate 24-15 Wednesday night after a six-hour debate.

Teacher unions vehemently opposed the bill, and teachers complained about the measure during House and Senate committee hearings.

They said the new rules would damage traditional public schools already ailing from three years of freezes in state aid, and allow students in private schools to escape oversight that students and teachers face in traditional public schools.

Critics also complained that the bill went through the Legislature too fast.

Lawmakers have spent over 50 hours on the bills since March 14.

House gives final OK to teacher tenure bill

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to make it harder for public school teachers to earn and keep tenure cleared its final legislative hurdle Thursday morning when the Louisiana House passed it.

The vote was 60-43.

The Senate approved the bill on Wednesday 23-16, then returned the measure to the House for consideration of two minor amendments.

The vote represents a signature legislative victory for Jindal. who has made public school improvements his key priority for the 2012 session.

The House action culminates work on a high-profile bill that zipped through the Legislature in barely three weeks, which is unusual.

Lawmakers have spent more than 50 hours on the bill and a companion measure, which would expand eligibility for some low-income students to attend private and parochial schools with state dollars.

The proposal, House Bill 974, would strip job protection -- called tenure -- from current teachers rated as ineffective starting with the 2013-14 school year.

New teachers and those without tenure now would have to be rated “highly effective” for five out of six years to earn the designation.

Jindal said the plan is aimed at ensuring high-quality teachers in every classroom.

Opponents said the legislation would rely on a flawed teacher evalation plan that needs more work.