Gov. Jindal stresses education reform during inaugural ceremony

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wwltv.com

Posted on January 9, 2012 at 6:35 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 9 at 6:43 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Louisiana state office holders took their oaths of office in low key events across Baton Rouge.

Gov. Bobby Jindal changed up his inaugural, so it wouldn't compete with the BCS title game in New Orleans.

The old state capitol Mark Twain once described as the ugliest building on the Mississippi River was the back drop as Jindal took the oath of office for a second time as governor.

He started his inaugural address by acknowledging what he called the "elephant in the room."

"I am fully aware as my kids have reminded me, that my inaugural as governor is not the most important thing that will happen in the great state of Louisiana today," said Jindal referring to the big LSU-Alabama match-up in the Superdome."

Jindal hit the high points of his first-term, including successes in ethics reform, job creation and tax cuts. But he spent most of his speech setting the stage for the next four years.

"In America, we believe every child deserves and equal opportunity to a quality education," said Jindal.

The governor is putting major emphasis on improving Louisiana's chronically poor performing schools.

"Reforming and improving education should not be a partisan issue," said Jindal. "Getting kids ready to face the challenges this world has to offer, getting them prepared to succeed and triumph should not be a political matter."

While the governor has yet to release details of his education reform agenda, it will likely include controversial items such as additional charter schools, vouchers and teacher evaluations tied to student achievement.

"Education reform is critical to the state," said state Rep. Nick Lorusso, R-Lakeview. "We end up on the bottom of the list in most categories every year and that's a critical aspect we have to tackle and win."

"We got to take care of all the kids in Louisiana and that's what some of the fright is," said state Sen. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi.

Council for a Better Louisiana President Barry Erwin said there is already some push back from teachers unions and school districts where students are already making the grade.

"One of the reasons to emphasis it today because some of these are going to be tough votes for a bunch of these legislators," said Erwin.

Following the swearing-in ceremony, Jindal headed to a special luncheon with lawmakers in downtown Baton Rouge. Then, he and his family were expected to head down to New Orleans to watch his beloved LSU Tigers in the BCS.

"Geaux Tigers," said Jindal.

State legislators also took their oaths of office. John Alario of Westwego was elected senate president. Representative Charles Kleckly, a Republican from Lake Charles, was elected house speaker.

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