BATON ROUGE, LA - December 18, 2012 - The Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) congratulates the Louisiana Federation of Teachers (LFT) on Judge Caldwell's ruling, which found a portion of Act 1 unconstitutional. President Joyce Haynes said her organization will continue to defend LAE members who face impacts from the requirements of the 1aw that are still intact.
"Our approach will hopefully bring order to the learning environment of students, rather than the overall chaos created by Act 1," she said.
The LAE Board of Directors met earlier this year to discuss taking legal action against several new education laws passed in the 2012 Legislative Session. Board members authorized legal challenges to Act 2 and Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 99, while reserving actions against Act 1. Act 2 and SCR 99 dealt with constitutional issues surrounding the public school funding formula; Act 1 set forth new requirements for teacher contracts and salaries, school reduction in force (RIF) policies, and due process rights. Due to the large number of potential legal scenarios that could arise, board members felt as though association resources would be best spent pursuing individual legal challenges on a case by case, parish by parish basis.
"Whether it's an issue with teacher evaluations or RIF policies, there are just too many different legal violations that stand to come out of these new requirements," said Haynes. "Rather than lump these variables together under one general action, the LAE Board of Directors felt any legal action would best be pursued by honing in on individual issues, with individual members in their respective school districts. We also felt as though some of these issues might be worked out collaboratively with school administrations and school boards."
Since the enactment of Act 1, LAE staff and legal team members from across the state have been proactively working on a number of ongoing challenges in several school districts respective to the new requirements surrounding individual contracts, employee salary schedules, building fair and transparent RIF policies, helping improve teacher evaluation processes, and challenging those procedures designed to punish teachers rather than foster improvement. The association has also taken on legal cases where teacher tenure procedures were violated. In fact, during the 2012 Legislative Session, LAE was the only organization to file legislation designed to streamline the tenure review process and modify the teacher evaluation law so that the evaluation process would help improve instruction.
"Educators' working conditions are students' learning conditions, and we should be providing quality conditions for teaching and lifelong learning," she said. "It's imperative that we agree on the scope of salary, benefits, and working conditions, so that we can focus on the importance of improving student learning."