Last year, the Louisiana legislature unanimously passed one of Stand’s priority bills, signed into law as Act 400, to codify Learning Pods as options for schools and districts.
Now: HB 550 by Rep. Julie Emerson offers an Amendment Learning Pods Operated by Type 2 Charter Schools
During the 2021 regular legislative session, at the request of State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley, Louisiana Representative Julie Emerson introduced HB 421, to allow local school districts and Type 2 Charter Schools to establish Learning Pods as an extension of any school under their jurisdiction. The State Board of Education (BESE) supported the bill as did numerous education advocacy groups, including Stand Louisiana. The bill passed the House with a vote of 98-0, the Senate by a vote of 36-0, and became Act 400 when signed into law by the Governor. Learning Pods have since become an essential part of public education in Louisiana.
What is a Learning Pod?
A Learning Pod, or Pod, is a group of at least 10 students who receive instruction in a small group setting. They are subject to all of the same requirements, including accommodations, as any school under the jurisdiction of a public school governing authority or the policies approved by BESE via a Type 2 Charter School contract. Pods were inspired by the proliferation of micro-schools which flourished during the pandemic, when many parents came together to create micro-schools for their children following the closure of public schools. Act 400 allows the innovation and flexibility of the micro-school model be incorporated into the public school system.
What Learning Pods Currently Exist?
Since the passage of Act 400 in 2021, nine Pods have been established. Two have been authorized by local school districts, Caddo and East Baton Rouge. Approximately 100 students attend these district-sponsored Pods.
Seven Pods have been established by Type 2 Charter Schools. There are two in Ascension, one in Metairie, one in Houma, one in Thibodaux, one in Breaux Bridge, and one in Iberville. There are about 270 students attending Pods sponsored by a Type 2 Charter School. The Pods in Houma and Thibodaux were established in response to the acute need for educational services following the massive destruction of school buildings by Hurricane Ida. Both Pods were fully operational and serving students within two weeks of the storm, while damaged school buildings in the area took weeks or even months to reopen.
What Would HB 550 do and why is it Needed?
HB 550 by Rep. Emerson would amend Act 400 only in the section that allows Type 2 Charter Schools to establish Learning Pods. It does not address district-created Pods.
The amendments are very straightforward. They:
- Clarify that the Learning Pod may be established at any site chosen by the Type 2 Charter School,
- Require the Type 2 Charter School to notify BESE of the establishment of a Learning Pod within 30 days, and
- Prohibit other conditions except as outlined in statute from being imposed upon a Type 2 Charter School in order to establish a Learning Pod.
Understand the importance of learning pods? HB 550 will be heard in the House Education Committee tomorrow, March 23rd. Click here to email members of the Committee and ask them to support HB 550, one of the most successful and student- and family-centered public education programs in Louisiana.
Want to better understand last year’s HB 421 which became Act 400 when signed into law? We wrote this explainer last year.