La. House Ed. Chair, Nancy Landry, Publicly Demeaned Teachers in 2012
On January 28, 2016, the Louisiana House Education Committee chose chose Nancy Landry (R-Lafayette) as its chair.
Louisiana teachers remember Landry from 2012– March 14, 2012– and the House Education Committee hearings on the Jindal “overhaul” of Louisiana public education– which included legislation on the Jeb-Bush-influenced ed reforms of voucher expansion and grading teachers using student test scores.
The hearings were held during the school day; therefore, any teacher wishing to attend and/or testify had to leave school to do so.
Landry promoted the idea of requiring teachers to open their remarks with a statement regarding personnel issues; namely, what type of leave they were under in order to be present at the House Education Committee hearings that day. (Landry’s degrading of teachers was captured in this March 2012 nola.com article.)
Here is an 8-minute video of Landry’s proposition and the committee “vote” to require such specific testimony from teachers on that day:
And here is the transcription of that video:
Carter: Representative Landry.
Landry: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I know there have been a lot of reports in the media today that, um, some, um, people are taking sick leave to come here today, and we don’t know whether that’s true or not, but I think as policymakers, um, it would be helpful if, if when people testify today, if they not only give their name and the name of the organization they’re representing, but also, um, whether they’re here, um, in a professional capacity, um, personal, on a personal day, or whether they did take a sick day to come here so we can kind of set the record straight and see if that information is accurate or not, and, I know I have some constituents who have expressed concern about that, and so, I just think it would be, if we could do, that would be an opportunity to set the record straight. So, I would move that we also, um, require everyone who testifies to give their name, the name of their organization, and also the capacity in which they’re here today.
Carter: Representative Champagne.
Champagne: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I agree with Representative Landry because I’ve also gotten some of those concerns, and I don’t think we need to deviate, and I think that everyone that comes before us should say who they’re affiliated with, and in their, uh, what their–uh, excuse me, Mr. Edwards, I have the mic–uh, but I think everyone should report that, and I’d like to move favorable on Representative Landry’s motion.
Carter: Representative Bishop.
Bishop: I don’t know if that’s necessary. I think folks, whether, whether they took sick leave, whether or not they got off work, whether or not they’re just here, if they came here, it was important enough for them to come testify. I don’t think we need to sit and dictate and try to figure out who did what, who came where, and why they’re here.
Carter: Representative Edwards.
Edwards: Why, I believe Representative Landry out that in the form of a motion, and I certainly want to object before we adopt that motion. There’s no reason to deviate from our rules. There are plenty of people in this room who have work to be doing today; they’re choosing to be here for some reason, and just because we have an educator who might want to be here on an important matter of education doesn’t mean we ought to single them out today and deviate from our rules and make them disclose any information other than that which they were to disclose on any other day.
Carter: Representative Williams.
Williams: Mr. Chairman, I, I would oppose that motion, one, because, you know, now, we’re going to start singling out individuals to say whether or not they’re on personal leave, vacation leave. That’s unfair, I think. The procedure has always been, as I have observed these committees, name, address, and if you represent an organization, state that. But when you start telling folks to say, “Well, I’m on personal leave, I am on vacation leave,” then you’re starting to get into their personal business, which is not important to this committee. And what this is is an effort to try to scare folks from testifying, and it’s not fair.
Carter: Representative Smith:
Smith: [Laughing]. I guess they turned my mic off, which I would expect, anyway.
I have to say that this is an atrocity to ask individuals who come before any committee as to whether or not they are on a leave are on sick leave. We ask a standard question, and that question is, your name, and address, and who you represent. That is in every single committee. And unless that becomes a rule of the House, that should not be something that we change in a committee just to embarrass or to put on a record whether or not an educator or anyone else has taken time from their day to, to participate in the governmental, legislative process that they have every right to participate in. This is the people’s House. It is not anyone else’s House but the people’s. It doesn’t belong to anyone else, and we should not put anyone on tap to say that they are coming from anyplace else rather than their home address that they are coming here to testify.
[The vote comes next.]
Recorder: Representative Bishop (D), no. Representative Broadwater (R), yes. Representative Burns (R), yes. Representative Carmody (R), yes. Representative Champagne (R), yes. Representative Edwards (D), no. Representative Henry (R), yes. Representative Hollis (R), yes. Representative Jefferson (D), no. Representative Landry (R), yes. Representative Price (D), no. Representative Richard (I), no. Representative Schroder (R), yes. Representative Shadoin (R), no. Representative Smith (D), no. Representative Thompson (R), yes. Representative Williams (D), no. Representative Carter (R), yes.
[To Carter] The motion passes 10-8.
Carter: The motion passes 10-8.
[Several teacher responses]
Teacher 1: I am an educator, and I am here on professional leave without pay.
Teacher 2: Without pay.
Teacher 3: Leave without pay.
Teacher 4: I took a personal day.
Teacher 5: Leave with permission from the superintendent.
Teacher 6: I took a personal day.
Teacher 7: A personal day.
Teacher 8: A personal day.
Teacher 9: I took a personal day.
Teacher 10: A professional day.
Teacher 11: A personal day.
Teacher 12: I am here with the full blessing of my superintendent.
Teacher 13: I am slightly scared, but I will do it: I took a sick day today.
Representative Jefferson: Senator Karen Peterson is going to come forward, and then we will proceed. But we have like, a little less than an hour, uh, as relates to others, uh, who want to speak.
Peterson: Ah, thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I want to say thanks to the Committee, and, of course, all of the good folks behind me that have come to weigh in.
I just, I filled out a white card because obviously, I’ll have my opportunity to weigh in on policy on the other side of the building. However, I left this side of the chamber as the Speaker Pro Tem, and I’m very familiar, Ms. Quaid would probably recall, and Mr. Speer, with the rules of the House and with procedure.
I understand that you all took a vote this morning that would require all of the people filling out cards to, in fact, you were trying to dictate what they said in their public testimony. As a citizen of the city, of the state of Louisiana, if anyone chooses to come before this public body, they don’t have to be told what to say. You can’t tell the– even if you vote– you can’t tell them what to say. So to attempt to dictate someone’s testimony, it should not only be offensive to you, but it’s a testament to our democracy.
It is offensive for people who took the oath of office to try to restrict in any way, or dictate– because this is not a restriction– this is in fact, saying, “You will not be able to speak your mind and offer your opinion without telling me this first.”
That in and of itself, among being unconstitutional, is offensive.
I think, Mr. Chairman, I would hope– it’s not too late because there’s a lot of testimony to follow– that someone on this committee would make a motion to reconsider that– and not have good, hardworking, professionals come before this committee and have to attest to a personnel matter before they can weigh in on a policy issue.
If in fact that’s the case, let’s make sure that we do it in the Insurance Committee; let’s make sure we do it in the Commerce Committee; let’s make sure we do it in Appropriations, Environmental, and across the board.
We should not subject teachers– who we say we value and we say we’re trying to empower to better our children– we should not treat them in this way. It’s a matter of fairness. I’m [going to] leave it right there.
Jefferson: Thank you, Senator.
[End of video]
In spring 2012, most Louisiana Congressional Republicans were acting out their thoughtless following of then-Governor Bobby Jindal, who was, in turn (and at the time) cozying up to Jeb Bush (who also cozied right back by helping get in place a state ed board that would approve of Jindal-chosen, state superintendent John White).
In his January 2012 unveiling of his Jeb-Bush-styled education legislation, Jindal made his antagonism toward Louisiana’s classroom teachers clear with the following statements, as captured in this January 23, 2012, nola.com article:
Referring to teacher tenure, Jindal said, “Short of selling drugs in the workplace or beating up one of the business’s clients, they can never be fired.”
Later, discussing a system in which pay increases for teachers would be tied to student performance, he said, “We are going to create a system that pays teachers for doing a good job instead of for the length of time they have been breathing.”
Of course, it is no longer January 2012. Now it is January 2016, and Jeb Bush’s aspirations for the White House are a limping embarrassment; Jindal’s hopes for the same were a flop; Representative John Bel Edwards is now Governor John Bel Edwards; Jindal broke up with both Jeb Bush and John White by supposedly going against the Common Core that he signed Louisiana onto, sight unseen, in the first place (but really, his ambition had him drop the Core in hopes for that 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue address), and John White does not have the sure votes to secure his job as state superintendent for another four years, instead quietly hanging on to temporary, month-to-month status.
So, 2016 holds a lot more promise for Louisiana teachers than did 2012.
Will Landry do better by teachers in 2016 than she did in 2012?
Perhaps tweeting this fine memory about her sorry 2012 behavior might push her in a more respectful direction:
Feel free to send it to her fellow committee members, as well:
(Note: This is a March 2015 listing of legislators’ facebook and twitter accounts. It is still useful for contacting some legislators.)