BATON ROUGE, La. – Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has issued an executive order to protect teachers who are critics of Common Core national standards.
The Town Talk reports:
Teachers statewide are feeling pressure from all sides, saying they are overworked and students are over-tested, and now many are saying they aren’t allowed to voice concerns or dissenting opinions.
Some in Rapides Parish are saying they are overwhelmed with work and have no outlet to voice their concerns. It is clear not everyone in the district feels this way but that there is a population that does.
“Many of us feel as though we’re under a dictatorship,” one area teacher said, agreeing to speak to The Town Talk if her name was not used. “We dare not speak out. … The public has no idea how stifled we feel. If we voice concerns, when May rolls around some teachers somehow discover that there is no ‘place’ for them next year.”
According to the paper, one teacher said she was “written up” by school administration for writing a comment from her personal Facebook account on a negative post about the Common Core State Standards.
“We are not to voice our opinions in any public forum,” she said, the paper reports.
“We are to be neutral or in favor of … This is a hot national debate. Why can’t I comment? I did not say a word about anything locally.”
The newspaper reports today, “Jindal issued an Executive Order to protect freedom of speech and the rights of teachers.”
The order reads:
FREEDOM OF SPEECH PROTECTIONS FOR LOUISIANA TEACHERS
WHEREAS, the United States Constitution and the Louisiana Constitution guarantee to every individual the freedom of speech and protection from government abridgment of that right;
WHEREAS, this same freedom and protection under the law extends to every teacher in every classroom across the state of Louisiana;
WHEREAS, teachers are the backbone of Louisiana’s educational system and offer a necessary voice in the ongoing discussions regarding classroom curriculum and testing procedures and must be afforded the opportunity to offer this crucial perspective;
WHEREAS, in 2008, the Governor made part of his legislative package and signed into law Act No. 155 of the 2008 Legislative Session, expanding the Teacher’s Bill of Rights to further the rights guaranteed to teachers, to strengthen immunity from legal retaliation, and to provide awareness of these rights to the education profession, the community, parents and students; and
WHEREAS, teachers must continue to work in an environment where they are able to speak freely and to provide public awareness of issues with curriculum and testing materials encountered in the classroom, free from punitive remedies and in accordance with their commitment to the education of the children of Louisiana, and as guaranteed by the United States Constitution, the Louisiana Constitution, and other laws of this state.
NOW THEREFORE, I, BOBBY JINDAL, Governor of the State of Louisiana, by virtue of the authority vested by the Constitution and the laws of the State of Louisiana, do hereby order and direct as follows:
SECTION 1: As part of the ongoing discussion among state and local education officials, teachers, parents, and stakeholders regarding classroom curriculum and testing, and as part of the larger discussion of the quality of Louisiana’s educational system, legal guarantees afforded to all citizens shall be maintained and provided to teachers;
SECTION 2: State and local school administration officials are not authorized under the existing laws of this state to deny a teacher’s constitutional freedom of speech in order to stifle the discussion and debate surrounding curriculum and standardized assessments by teachers.
SECTION 3: All departments, commissions, boards, agencies, and political subdivisions of the state are authorized and directed to cooperate with the implementations of the provisions of this Order.
SECTION 4: This Order is effective upon signature and shall remain in effect until amended, modified, terminated or rescinded.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have set my hand officially and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of Louisiana, at the Capitol, in the city of Baton Rouge, on this 6th day of October, 2014.
/s/ Bobby Jindal____________
GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA