AIE Blog

News and notes on innovations and education reform in Louisiana.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

“Too much red tape with the ‘Red Tape Reduction Act’?”

The new state law, Red Tape Reduction Act, signed into law in June, intended to improve student achievement is gaining media headline as a "political stunt.” Governor Jindal and Superintendent Paul Pastorek have disputed this allegation, as the goal is to allow district waivers from restrictions that school districts have often cited as burdensome. The law allows school districts to seek four-year waivers on policies such as classroom size, ”seat time,” and overall school scheduling among others. According to Joyce Haynes, President of the Louisiana Association of Educators, "The governor seems to be building a false argument that Louisiana public school teachers are the reason the political stunt he and Paul Pastorek put together has not been utilized."
Nearly eight months since the Red Tape Act originated, no waivers have been submitted to the Louisiana State Department of Education. As this Act was put into place for teachers’ benefit, a group of superintendents have met with the Department of Education to discuss ways this should be made as easy and as inviting to them as possible and January 1, 2011 was set as a push to solicit waiver requests. Superintendents argue that the districts have opted not to seek relief because the Red Tape Reduction Act causes too much red tape! According to John Sartin, Superintendent of Public Schools in Caldwell Parish says, “This is just not something school districts are interested in.”
If the lack of requests is a reflection of the burdensome school laws, then why is it a challenge? Why have no school districts sought relief? Are the teachers getting the information weighing the benefits of the Red Tape Reduction Act and backing from their administrators? If so, where’s the teacher feedback data?
Advance Innovative Education’s mission promotes urgent, systemic change in education by training leaders to be on the forefront with such timely issues as being a part of making new laws that impact students—not what is convenient for adults. AIE knows the crucial responsibility leaders must undertake in setting the precedent to convey messages with such issues as the Red Tape Reduction Act. AIE’s focus is to recruit “change agents” who possess the courage to change school culture. A half-year after the Red Tape Reduction Law passed, school leaders recently met to discuss teacher support. Ask any teacher about the part of the job that takes them away from giving their all to students and they will reply, “Too much paper work.”  So while this is not something just school districts are interested in, teachers are, too!  That is if they’ve received the correct information from the unions to which they pay dues.
For more on the Red Tape Reduction Act: