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Education forum turns heated

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - 9:55pm

In the final days before the legislative session opens, Governor Jindal's education bills are coming under heated attack from some.

"You should be opposed to everything," said Carnell Washington with Louisiana Federation of Teachers, as he spoke to the crowd. "This is an attack on the working class women and men in Louisiana. Attack on education, attack on civil service workers."

Over a hundred people packed into the McKinley Alumni Center in Baton Rouge Wednesday, for an education forum sponsored by State Representative Patricia Smith and State Senator Yvonne Dorsey.

"Reform is something I'm not afraid of," said Smith. "Most important thing is how you put reform in."

Those in the audience had a chance to voice their unfiltered concerns about the Governor's plans to give state aid to students in low-performing schools for tuition at private or parochial schools.

"You're helping the middle class go into private school," said one audience member. "What (you're) left with is a lot of poor kids still in public schools."

An education advisor for Governor Jindal bore the brunt of what turned out to be a passionate, and vocal opposition to the Governor's plans.

"They can attend another public school in the parish," said Jindal advisor Russell Armstrong. "An 'A' school down the street if they have space, or non-public school if they so choose. And use the money to pay tuition plus support fees."

Representative Smith said she plans to fight for private or parochial schools to be held under the same scrutiny that public schools are, if they end up receiving taxpayer money.

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