Feb 22, 2013 7:31 PM by Chris Welty

Lawmaker Goes Undercover in the Classroom

Acadiana teachers are hopeful after an education forum sponsored by the Louisiana Association of Educators and KATC.

More than one hundred twenty people attended Thursday night's forum at the David Thibodeaux Stem Academy in Lafayette and it was one of the largest crowds so far.

Louisiana Association of Educators members say the event created a sense of urgency for teachers to get involved in the conversation and start communicating more frequently with their elected officials.

KATC's Chris Welty found out, one Acadiana lawmaker is going undercover as a substitute teacher. He says it's to gain first hand knowledge of what happens in classrooms so he can make better education decisions in Baton Rouge.

Scott Middle School fifth grade teacher Katie Thornton and her students had no idea a state representative was subbing in her classroom.

"Their reaction was like, oh he's famous! They don't understand the depths of legislation, but they know he works at the capital," said Katie Thornton.

District 44 State Rep, Vincent Pierre subs at schools in his district so he can see what educators face everyday. Pierre says it's "eye opening and dis-heartening" that some students don't have all the tools they need and teachers are spending money out of their pockets.

"We're steady making budget cuts in Baton Rouge, cutting into the areas most important." Pierre believes his experience in the classroom is helping him in Baton Rouge. "When you make a decision to vote, it's a conscious vote based on what you experience."

Thornton thinks all lawmakers should follow Pierre's footsteps and educate themselves before making decisions affecting education.

"There's a lot of change right now and a lot of turmoil in the education system. A lot of people are on edge."

Representative Pierre is considering proposing legislation making it mandatory for lawmakers to spend at least 20 to 30 hours in a "C, D, or F" school.

"If we as legislators understand how that is done than we could make major changes."

Legislators are calling for educators to be more proactive by "playing offense instead of defense." Louisiana Association of Educator leaders are planning to bring forth legislation this session that proposes an alternative teacher evaluation system focusing on using multiple measures to determine teacher effectiveness, stronger professional development in the areas of student assessment and team building among education professionals.

Chris Welty



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