Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal revealed his education platform yesterday in a policy paper that was released through the non-profit organization he started called America Next. Parental choice and empowerment is the centerpiece of his policy. “I trust parents,” Jindal stated to those who took part in a conference call with the prospective 2016 candidate.
“It’s time that we tell the truth about the state of America’s education system,” Jindal said during the call. “There was a time when our education system was the envy of the world.”
He said that America’s K-12 education system is stuck in a rut and is going nowhere unless the nation makes some big changes soon.
“In America today we do not provide equal opportunity in education,” Jindal stated. “This is an indisputable truth or an inconvenient truth to use our recent label. Make no mistake this is a crisis in America. The people standing in the way of a comeback are the Democratic Party.”
He said that teachers’ unions and the Democratic Party is holding America back by insisting on a one-size-fits-all educational delivery system. He called Democrats hypocrites on the issue of education saying they tout it on one hand and deny equal opportunity on the other.
He said if parents have the means they have the ability to provide their children with a first-rate education whether it is through pubic, private or home schools. Families that don’t have the means do not have that same opportunity and have a hard time breaking out of a cycle of poverty.
“That’s not only bad for those kids, but that is bad for our country,” Jindal stated. He stated we should do this not only for economic reasons, but our system of government is dependent on it.
“If we want to have a self-governing republic we have to have an educated citizenry,” Jindal claimed.
The time to act is now Jindal said. “Our kids only grow up once. We don’t have time for incremental reforms. We don’t have time to bang our heads against the wall,” Jindal asserted.
He said there are a number of policies introduced in the paper, but there are three main principles. The first he said is that we need “to make the dollars follow the child, rather than the child follow the dollars. This is the modern way of thinking we need to give parents more choice.”
He said this would allow parents to send their children to whatever school best meets their needs whether it is a public school, charter school, online school, home school, tutoring, etc.
He said in Louisiana that 90% of students in New Orleans are attending charter schools and over 7,000 students are utilizing scholarships from the state in order to attend private school. He said parental satisfaction is over 90%. “This has grown over 100% over the last six years and is projected to grow,” Jindal stated.
“This is about empowering parents to make choices for their kids,” Jindal said as he noted the opposition that these policies have received from teachers unions and the Obama administration.
His plan outlines several ways parental choice can be accomplished.
- Stop assigning students to schools based on zip codes.
- Education dollars follow each child.
- Stop double-taxing parents who exercise choice.
- Unbundle education funding so students say in rural districts can pay for classes that their school may not be able to offer.
- Partner with local businesses and vocational associations in order to foster vocational training for students who desire that.
- Create new scholarship programs and expand existing ones.
- Establish education savings accounts.
- Cut private school regulations.
- Put parents in charge of America’s special-needs children.
- Celebrate public school parents choices.
- Encourage charter schools and lift charter school caps.
- Diversify charter authorizers and reduce charter regulations.
- Blend learning with technology.
- Basically take an all-of-the-above approach.
- Require vendors to serve students, but not butter-up officials.
- Relinquish power to the lowest level possible.
In the paper it notes how school choice programs have been hijacked.
School scholarship programs will defeat their purpose if they function as a Trojan horse that increases government control of private institutions. They should expand education diversity and access, not convert every education institution into a trivially different provider for centrally determined curriculum and teaching. So lawmakers must refuse to substitute their preferences for parents’ preferences, and recognize that market accountability, where parents determine the outcomes they desire and whether schools are reaching them, is far better than government-style accountability, which is a poor substitute at best. When parents can vote with their feet and their dollars, schools will become more responsive.
“Second, we need to reform teacher tenure laws,” Jindal explained. “We must get out of the mode of paying teachers for how long they have been breathing. We owe it to our kids and to our teachers to give them the best learning environment possible which means giving them the best possible teachers.”
He said teachers who perform need to be rewarded, under performing teachers need to be put on notice and ultimately dismissed. He said we need to make it easier for college graduates who may not have had a degree in education, but has expertise in a subject area to teach, but then hold them accountable.
Some policy points made in the report for the “educator freedom” principles are:
- Raise academic requirements for teachers.
- Overhaul teacher preparation.
- Evaluate public teacher preparation programs.
- Repeal teacher certification mandates.
- Set districts free to experiment with teacher evaluations.
- End lifetime job guarantees.
- End forced union membership.
- Restrict collective bargaining to salaries.
- Give school leaders control over their staff and budgets.
- Axe meddlesome laws and regulations.
- Allow innovation waivers for states, districts and schools.
- Eliminate most curriculum mandates.
- Eliminate federal teaching requirements and spending on ineffective training.
“Third, education is best directed at the local level, not by the federal government,” Jindal explained. “In today’s debate that means getting rid of Common Core. When Common Core first came out it was described as an effort led by states to seek high standards for our students, a local led, voluntary effort. It actually sounded pretty good, but now it has become a way for the federal government to dictate a national curriculum.”
“High standards are critical for our success, and those who oppose Common Core are for high standards, but in today’s world we are testing our students to the point of absurdity. Certainly some level of testing is necessary, but in too many cases our teachers are forced to teach to the test year-round,” Jindal added.
He pointed out how Common Core opposition has grown beyond just conservatives and they include teachers and parents as well. “I’d never bet against the moms in this debate and I think they are ultimately going to be successful,” Jindal stated.
“Improving the education system is not a partisan issue,” Jindal said.
Policy points Jindal makes under this priority are to:
- Repeal Common Core are restore state and local standards.
- Severely limit Federal control over local schools.
- Roll back No Child Left Behind.
- Eliminate duplicative and coercive federal education programs.
- Reduce government data collection.
- Secure children’s information property rights.
- Restore and enhance FERPA (Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act).
Listen to the phone call with bloggers.
You can read his education plan here or below.