The state Senate Retirement Committee apparently didn’t like the governor’s original proposal for reforming the state’s pension plans. The committee has made substantial changes, and now Chairman Elbert Guillory says “We are asking more people to give us their ideas.” Guillory says it’s likely the retirement bills will be “polished and tweaked?” even further when they reach to the Senate floor.
If the governor’s retirement-reform package is receiving the benefit of input from the parties most affected by it, why wasn’t the package of so-called education reforms given the same consideration? I’d submit that on the basis of long-term impact on Louisiana’s future, improving the retirement system falls well short of the need to improve education.
Some of the issues addressed in the governor’s education package are good ones, but others are so toxic that they invalidate any claim to true educational reform. In testimony a few weeks ago, I asked the Senate Education Committee for one year to allow a panel of parents, teachers, administrators, school board members, groups such as PAR and CABL to work with the governor and the Legislature to “polish and tweak” a little, too. But the train had already left the station.
As the Retirement Committee apparently realizes, negotiation and compromise always have a better chance of producing positive results than zealotry ever does. But when education was the issue, zealotry prevailed, virtually guaranteeing litigation and years of turmoil in the effort to educate our children.
Russ Wise, member
St. John the Baptist Parish School Board