The new education reform bill passed by both the house and senate and recently signed into law by Gov. Jindal proposes the following measures:
- Funneling 1.9 billion dollars of taxpayer money every year from funds intended for public schools to private and religious schools, virtual schools, home schools, and charter schools created by corporations, businesses, and industry providers.
- Moving tax money approved by voters for local salaries, construction, and maintenance to these private institutions, even if the schools are located in a different city or parish.
- Only Requiring teachers in these schools to have a B.A.—no certification will be necessary.
- The only fiscal oversight for these new charter schools will be an annual report to the unelected charter authorizer, not to the BESE or the local school board.
- Online teachers from anywhere in the world will automatically be certified as Louisiana teachers. They will NOT be subject to Louisiana teacher evaluations or accountability. –The Louisiana Federation of Teachers
The Big Picture
The tuition required to attend private schools in Louisiana is generally greater than the proposed $5,000 vouchers. Plus, after you add the additional cost of books, fees, uniforms, supplies, and transportation the out-of-pocket expense can quickly grow to thousands of dollars. This leaves those in the lower financial brackets out in the cold and trapped in failing schools with depleted finances and very little hope of succeeding.
Furthermore, private and charter schools are very selective. Many students simply will not be accepted—voucher or no voucher. This is done in an attempt to keep test scores high and money coming in.
Finally, this bill has very little to do with improving education, and everything to do with lining the pockets of corporate interests. If you’re a corporation whose concern is limited to acquisition and profits, 1.9 billion dollars a year is a powerful incentive to throw your hat into the ring. If this bill stands, there will be an explosion of private and charter schools throughout Louisiana effectively destroying the public school system, privatizing education, and leaving hundreds of thousands of students disenfranchised and behind the curve.
What is needed is the support and attention that our public schools and educators deserve. Standardized test scores (which represent Jindal’s main argument for the effectiveness of private and charter institutions) cannot replace the power of critical thinking that is required in successful public schools and institutions of higher learning. There is no such entity as an unteachable child and schools are only as productive as their support system allows. Save public education for the sake of our children and our country’s future: Say NO to Jindalcation!
The Louisiana Educational Action and Reform Network
We at L.E.A.R.N. are concerned about the prevailing trend toward privatization and the growing reliance on the free market to solve all of our problems. We believe this law is just another example of government not dealing with the issue in favor of handing it off to big business, and instead, support a community based effort to deal with the dilemma government seems unwilling to adequately address.
SAY NO TO THE PRIVATIZATION OF EDUCATION!