Minden Press-Herald

Oct 02nd

HB 160 passes out of committee with unanimous vote

In what was called "true civic fashion," House Bill 160 was unanimously passed out of committee after a round table meeting.

Rep. Gene Reynolds, D-Minden, said the manner in which this bill has been drafted is "how our civics books explain how government should work."

"The big victory last week for everyone was House Bill 160," Reynolds said. "It was really amazing to see everyone work together for education in our state. It was an interesting and uplifting afternoon."

House Bill 160 will make this year's test results null and void when used as an evaluation tool.

"My proposal is to collect the data, but the information won't be used for teacher evaluations," Reynolds said. "We are not trying to eliminate teacher evaluations."

Reynolds said COMPASS, which is now the formula used to evaluate teachers, needs modification.

"We are getting mixed reports from COMPASS results from around the state," he said. "The evaluation method needs work and is changing. We will have to modify the COMPASS evaluation over the next few years."

He anticipates the bill will pass once it hits the floor of the House and will have much support in the Senate.

After several meetings with Superintendent of Education John White, Reynolds felt a compromised could be reached in the area of teacher evaluations.

"We agreed in theory in most of these meetings, but I feel like he (White) was in a position where he couldn't instigate change. So I came up with a bill," Reynolds said.
Reynolds drafted a bill that included additional accountability of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

"I'm looking for two committees at the state level to oversee what BESE decides they are doing," he said. "There needs to be some oversight, in my opinion. I'm going to try and get as much of that as we can. Everyone needs to be held accountable."

However, Reynolds said BESE was in opposition to the portion of his bill which would require them to report to both the Senate and House education committees.

"The BESE board was very much against that, so we went down to the capital and we had conversations and talked about things and put a compromise on the table, " he said. "But at the last minute it broke down."

Before Reynolds went to the committee meeting, a gathering among interested parties was held.

"I was asked if I would be pushing my original bill and I told them I was," Reynolds said. "So the Louisiana School Board Association, Superintendent's Association, teacher's unions and the Department of Education met just before the committee meeting," Reynolds said. "I managed to get all of those people at the same table. Everyone was sitting down and we came up with a compromise."

While Reynolds lost the portion of his bill that would require BESE to report to Senate and House committees, he feels the victory for teachers was worth it.

"With that compromise, it was unanimous coming out of committee," Reynolds said. "Now we will have a delay of implementing the COMPASS evaluations. We did allow for local school boards to use the observation portion only if there was a Reduction In Force or for documentation in the case of a personnel issue. Basically, this past year's evaluations are a mulligan."






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