Education bills top agenda Wednesday

Arguments linked to Common Core are set to resume at the State Capitol on Wednesday when a House committee resumes debate on a bill designed to ensure student privacy.

The proposal, House Bill 946, sparked a three-hour discussion a week ago in the House Education Committee.

However, the panel delayed a vote amid a dispute between state Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington, sponsor of the bill and state Superintendent of Education John White.

Schroder and other backers of the legislation contend that tougher rules are needed on student data, including how it is stored and who has access to it.

He said the emphasis should be on parental and student rights, not government requirements.

Backers of the effort say it is needed, in part, because of what they call invasive requests for student information in tests tied to Common Core, which are new standards in math, reading and writing set to take full effect for the 2014-15 school year.

White said the state Department of Education needs certain access to student information for a variety of reasons, including comparisons of test scores.

Higher education leaders also told the committee that Schroder’s bill needs changes to prevent students from being ineligible for TOPS and other college scholarships.

While Schroder’s bill has drawn the most attention, two other student privacy measures are set for debate.

They are House Bill 555 by state Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie and House Bill 560 by Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Central.

The committee meets at 9 a.m.

The Senate Education Committee is set to consider a proposal by Sen. Bodi White, R-Central, that he said would allow voters to decide whether to give the Legislature authority to create new school districts.

Under current rules, setting up a new school district is a two-step process.

It requires a change in state law, which requires majority approval.

In addition, the new district has to win two-thirds support in the House and Senate, and majority support in a statewide election and in the affected district, to become reality.

White’s proposal to change the system is a constitutional amendment that requires two-thirds support in the House and Senate and a majority of voters statewide.

It is Senate Bill 354.

Last year a White-sponsored measure to set up a new school district in southeast Baton Rouge cleared the Legislature but a companion constitutional amendment failed to muster the needed two-third support in the House.

The same panel is also set to discuss Senate Bill 94, which would lessen requirements that lawmakers approved in 2012 that require teachers to be rated as highly effective for five out of six years to earn tenure.

State Sen. Rick Gallot, D-Ruston, wants tenure awarded if teachers get the top job evaluation for three consecutive years.

Gallot’s proposal is Senate Bill 94.