Today, Governor Jindal announced that he has signed HB 1368, or the Red Tape Reduction and Local Empowerment Act by Rep. Jane Smith, into law. Part of the Governor's 2010 legislative package, the new law will reduce bureaucracy in the state's education system and provide schools the flexibility needed to improve student performance.
Governor Jindal said, "For too long, we've bogged down our schools with regulations and red tape, and this new law will provide our schools with another tool they need to give our children a quality education. The new law will give schools greater autonomy to implement reforms to move our education system forward. The Red Tape Reduction and Local Empowerment Act will especially benefit struggling schools, giving them the ability to scale up reforms needed to dramatically improve student achievement and avoid state takeover."
Rep. Jane Smith said, "I was honored to author this piece of legislation to give our schools the ability to operate with greater autonomy as they strive to increase student achievement. I was particularly honored to work with local school superintendents, principals, Dr. Phillip Rozeman with Education's Next Horizon and Scott Hughes with Alliance for Education, to refine this bill throughout the legislative process. These outstanding individuals truly have the best interests of students and teachers at heart, and I am confident that our schools and our students will greatly benefit from this new, creative program."
Louisiana's State Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek said, "For years district superintendents have complained that educators' hands are tied with bureaucratic red tape and rules that frustrated efforts at educating excellently. Finally, the Legislature has passed a groundbreaking law that permits local school districts to control their own destiny and rid themselves of unnecessary red tape."
Brigitte T. Nieland of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) said, "LABI was pleased to support the Red Tape Reduction Act throughout the entire legislative process. It's an innovative, game changing piece of legislation, one of the rare bills that could be transformative for education reform at the local level. For years, educational leaders in the local districts called upon the state for a remedy that would 'untie their hands' from bureaucratic red tape to allow them to provide a clear focus on student learning. HB 1368 achieves that."
Rapides Parish Schools Superintendent Gary Jones said, "I want to thank Governor Bobby Jindal for pushing forward with the Red Tape Reduction Act. This important law will empower our school districts and give them the freedoms they need to implement positive changes for our students. With this law, we'll be able to pursue more innovative ideas for improving student achievement, which will benefit the state as a whole."
President of the Council for A Better Louisiana (CABL) Barry Erwin said, "CABL believes the Red Tape Reduction Act can be a powerful catalyst to help turn around low-performing schools in many areas of our state. Just as we have seen in charter schools, we hope it will drive innovative thinking in many of our other public schools for the benefit of children. We hope many districts will take advantage of this new tool and utilize it as one more way to make our schools better."
Specifically, HB 1368 authorizes an optional program for local school districts that would allow them to seek a four-year waiver of state laws and BESE policies, with some exceptions. Any public school may apply for a waiver through its local school board upon receiving a favorable vote of a majority of the school's classroom teachers. Academically unacceptable schools covered by a waiver will be required to make certain changes, based on best practices, designed to improve school performance. During the waiver period, they will not be subject to the sanctions of accountability, meaning they will not be subject to state takeover and placement in the Recovery School District.