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Voucher, Teacher Tenure Legislation Approved in Louisiana

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Major education developments on the Bayou today.

Louisiana's state legislature has approved far-reaching voucher legislation that would give students in academically struggling schools across the state public funds to attend private schools. Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican who championed the measure, is expected to sign it.

The legislation would expand an existing private school voucher program, available in New Orleans and to some special-needs populations, to students in academically struggling schools. It also contains provisions designed to increase the number of authorizers of charter schools.

A separate bill that awaits Jindal's signature would set higher standards for teachers obtaining tenure. It is meant to align state policies that evaluate educators based on performance, Rene Greer, a spokeswoman for the state department of education, said.

"Today, Louisiana's legislature demonstrated the courage to change for our children," John White, the state's superintendent of education, said in a statement. "The Legislature empowered superintendents to lead their districts, principals to lead their schools, and parents to choose what is best for their children."

The Louisiana Association of Educators, a teachers' union, took a different view, warning in a press release that the bills were an effort to "dismantle Louisiana's public school system." It said teachers have been shut out of Jindal's plans, and suggested that the voucher program would enrich private interests with little public accountability.

"The best solutions for Louisianians come from Louisianians, not Wall Street," said Joyce Haynes, the LAE's president. "And great ideas for public education come from educators themselves."

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