In a rare public schools win for Gov. John Bel Edwards, a bill that would nullify one method for launching charter schools won final legislative approval Thursday.
The measure, Senate Bill 260, cleared the House 78-12.
It now goes to Edwards, who made the legislation part of his legislative package.
Other key measures backed by the governor, including sweeping bids to curb the growth of charter schools and vouchers, died earlier this year with little fanfare.
Under current law, local groups can be endorsed by the state as “charter authorizers” and then strike agreements with firms to set up charter schools.
No such charters have been approved to date, which supporters of the bill cited as a reason to scrap the 2012 law.
Backers of the bill also said today’s rules would allow charter schools with little oversight.
Rep. Ed Price, D-Gonzales, House sponsor of the measure, noted that charter schools already are authorized by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and local school boards.
“We have a process that is working,” Price said. “We have a lot of charter schools out there that have followed that process.”
Louisiana has about 140 charter schools, which are public schools that are supposed to offer innovative alternatives to traditional public schools.
The bill was opposed by the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and others in committee.
However, criticism was muted this time amid signs that opponents opted not to fight the bill.
House Education Committee Chairwoman Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette, opposed the legislation, whose chief sponsor is Senate Education Committee Chairman Dan “Blade” Morrish, R-Jennings.
“The local charter authorizer bill is just another tool for parental choice,” Landry told the House. “It is another tool in the tool box.”
Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, disagreed.
“This is just not a needed process at this time,” Smith said.
Two other public school bills agreed to by a wide range of education groups after weeks of negotiations, and backed by Edwards, also won final legislative approval.
One of the measures — Senate Bill 477 — would tweak the way public school teachers are evaluated.
That bill would trim the role of the growth of student achievement in teacher evaluations from 50 percent to 35 percent.
Other signs of student achievement would account for 15 percent of the grade.
Classroom observations of teachers by principals would still account for 50 percent of the review.
The vote was 90-0.
The House also endorsed a bill that would extend a state moratorium on various accountability measures during the state’s move to new classroom standards.
The latest and supposedly final moratorium would apply to the 2016-17 school year.
The proposal is Senate Bill 262.
It won House approval 86-0.
In a statement, state Superintendent of Education John White praised final approval for both bills.
“Louisiana’s students deserve expectations as high as any in America, and teachers deserve consistency and clarity in order to meet those expectations,” he said. “Today’s vote is an important step toward assuring high expectations in the classroom and the consistency and respect our teachers deserve.”
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