Letter: Ruling on Act 1 correct

Thank you for the recent editorial explaining why Judge Michael Caldwell had little choice but to rule Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Act 1 (2012) unconstitutional for the second time.

For nearly two years, the governor and his allies have labeled us as enemies of reform, when in fact we have been friends and defenders of the Constitution.

The Act 1 ruling in Judge Caldwell’s court is an object lesson in just why the framers of our Constitution banned multiple objects in a single bill.

As you wrote, what happened during the 2012 legislative session was a costly “political tour de force.” Two massive pieces of legislation were cobbled together and rammed through the legislative process in little more than a month.

You wrote that the public was shortchanged by the process. We believe the offense to the public was much more egregious than that.

Teachers traveled to Baton Rouge and stood on the steps of the Capitol for hours before even being allowed entry. Teachers waited late into the night, but were given only two minutes to testify on bills that radically restructured their careers. Teachers traveled to the Capitol but many weren’t permitted entry while the reform bills were “debated” on the floor of the Senate.

What happened was a lesson in how not to make laws. The number of objects, the complexity of the issues and the deliberate exclusion of the people in Acts 1 and 2 made thoughtful deliberation and public participation impossible.

The tactics were unnecessary. Before the session began there was ample time to engage teachers and communities. However, the political tour de force was the path chosen. As your editorial noted, the price has been angry educators, litigation and a culture of mistrust.

You wrote that “Louisiana’s governorship is already too powerful.” We agree, and hope that our actions will help restore the balance envisioned by the framers of the Constitution.

After the Federation prevailed for the second time, we again expressed our willingness to work with the governor and legislators on meaningful reforms. Following the ruling against his agenda, Gov. Jindal said, “It’s time for them to stop the lawsuits and go to work with us to help improve education for our kids.”

There’s nothing we’d like better. We are more than ready to work as partners with the governor and Legislature to ensure that all our children get an education that will lead to a successful and productive life.

Steve Monaghan

president, Louisiana Federation of Teachers

Baton Rouge