Parents need a day off work to support Louisiana’s education reform bills

Louisiana Teachers Cancel Class to Protest Education Reform Bill

Canceling class “will allow teachers to travel to Baton Rouge for hearings on Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to make sweeping changes in public schools,” the Baton Rouge Advocate reports.

Last year nearly half of Louisiana’s public schools received a D or F grade on student outcomes. Louisiana’s 4th and 8th graders ranked among the bottom in English and Math when compared to other states. In 2010 one third of all LA public school students scored below grade level.

Parents have to show up to work. They can’t team up to show up to the capital and demand reforms that might help improve schools. Now they can’t even go to work Thursday because they have to take care of the kids that teachers abandoned so they could protest reforms.

Parents can’t take on teachers or their unions in a political battle. They have neither the time nor the resources to do what it takes to win, such as buy candidates, protest, or even sometimes vote. Political influence is why teachers are routinely able to squash excellent reform proposals such as charter school and voucher programs. It’s also why insane policies like tenure and certification requirements persist despite mounting evidence they decrease education quality while increasing price.

 

It’s a catch-22. Parents’ only hope for educational progress is competition. The only way parents can realistically pressure schools to improve is by getting to choose between competing schools. But introducing competition through charters and vouchers requires using the political process, on which teachers and their unions have an absolute stranglehold.

For parents to see reform, disparate pro-reform organizations must team up and exert equal or greater pressure on politicians than unions. For every dollar unions deduct from teachers’ paychecks (and use to buy candidates, create YouTube videos, run ads and build websites fighting reform) a parent only has to give 1/15 of a dollar (assuming there is one teacher for every 30 students) to outspend the unions by double. That money could buy enough lobbyists, politicians and ads to get true education reforms passed in this country. It’s worth it.

Photo by Elizabeth Albert.

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