Iberville Schools Superintendent Dr. Arthur Joffrion concerned by state lesson plan bill

Staff Report

The head of the Iberville Parish School System said he has “deep concerns” about proposed legislation that would require schools to post all course materials online before the school year begins.

House Bill 75 by state Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, follows suit with national debate over content taught in the classroom. Harris said the bill would offer parents transparency regarding textbooks and classroom lessons – something the Iberville Parish School System already offers, School Superintendent Dr. Arthur Joffrion said.

Iberville Parish School Superintendent Dr. Arthur Joffrion

“All of our teaching materials are already easily accessible by parents if they want to see those materials,” he said. “We cannot expect that our teachers can post a year’s worth of material and a year’s worth of lessons plans on a website because our teachers teach kids first. We in Iberville oppose that bill.”

Harris told a TV station that the proposal stems from phone called he received from parents during the remote learning phase of the pandemic.

Some parents said they wished they would have had the information readily available to see online out of concern for the material.

Critics call his proposal “a cookie cutter” approach.

The final decision on curriculum should remain with the educators, Joffrion said.

“School systems determine curriculum, and there are a set of standards from all of the content based on the standards set by the state,” he said.

Local school systems have the autonomy to determine curriculum. In Iberville Parish, the decision on curriculum goes before committees.

“When we adopted a science curriculum, the decision was made by a committee that included teachers, administrators and parents,” Joffrion said. “That group reviewed all the curriculum, voted and what we adopted was what those committees selected.”

Teachers are upset about the bill, he said.

“To expect a teacher to do that is unreasonable and pure nonsense,” Joffrion said. “Our teachers are using the best materials and resources and using instructional strategies they deem appropriate to meet the needs of their students.

“His proposal is simply unreasonable,” he said.

“Louisiana Believes” and “Canvas” already posts online information for parents to review.

The bill would also require bibliographical information such as textbooks, essays, articles and activities involving those outside the school to be listed.

Meanwhile, the bill has triggered concern among educators statewide that it will make it more difficult for school system to attract teachers.

A recent state report showed that showed that approximately 50,000 students per day do not have a regular teacher in class due to the dwindling number of educators on the workforce.

A bill by state Rep. Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge, aims to lure retired teachers back to the classroom.

As part of the legislation, teachers would be able to earn 50 percent of their pension if they return to work. The current cap is 25 percent.

It would only apply to teachers who retired by Dec. 31, 2021. It would limit their return to three years.