Jindal slams teachers union for not acting on director's comment

Jindal slams teachers union for not acting on director's comment

Gov. Bobby Jindal took aim at one of the state's largest teachers unions today for failing to take action against its executive director, one week after his controversial comments about school choice, which is a tenet of Jindal's proposed education reforms.

Michael Walker-Jones, executive director of the Louisiana Association of Educators, was quoted by The Times-Picayune Tuesday as saying some low-income parents are not qualified to decide where their children should go to school, a comment the union later claimed was taken out of context. But in his address today to more than 800 business and political leaders at the 2012 Louisiana Education Summit, Jindal said the comments show a top-down, arrogant mentality.

"I am amazed he is still representing the organization a week later," Jindal says. "I think the union should distance themselves from him. … These remarks reveal contempt for parenting."

LAE did not return calls for comment, though in a statement last week the union defended Walker-Jones and accused the governor of "attacking us while we are working hard for our children."

The escalating war of words underscores where the fight will be as Jindal pushes a comprehensive school reform plan that tackles teacher tenure, school choice and school board power. In his speech, Jindal was careful to emphasize that his plan does not take aim at educators, but rather at "bureaucrats" and unions that "don't want good teachers to succeed."

Union representatives were invited to the summit but declined to attend. Says Les Landon, a spokesman for the Louisiana Federation of Teachers: "It's pretty clear the summit was a cheering section for the governor's education agenda. We want to be part of the conversation but would rather do so in a forum that allows for honest debate."

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