Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Big Win For Public Education!

Distric Judge Tim Kelly ruled Friday that it is a violation of the Louisiana Constitution for MFP funds to pay students to attend private schools.  The ruling was handed down as a result of lawsuits by the LAE, LFT and the Louisiana School Boards Association. The ruling prohibits the funding of public to private school vouchers now in operation and the course choice program scheduled to start next school year. See the Baton Rouge Advocate story.

This ruling will be appealed to the Louisiana Supreme court by the Jindal administration and BESE. But for now it is a great win for public education, for taxpayers and for children.  The voucher program was sure to grow over the years because of heavy advertising and student recruitment by small and very large private schools. Under the voucher system millions of our tax dollars would have been diverted from the classroom to these advertising campaigns. In some states almost half of captured education funds by virtual school giant K12 were used for advertising. They can do this because of pupil teacher ratios of as much as 250 to one. Also virtual schools have no buildings to maintain and no buses to run. They provide such a poor education that they have to constantly recruit new students to replace their massive dropouts!

Educators and school board members must prepare for a continued fight with the Jindal administration. Even if the voucher decision is upheld, his new "presidential" sized ego will compel him to fight public education in every way possible. These recent events demonstrate to us that there is now an all out war agains public education. But this war is by privatization interests, not by the average taxpayer or public school parent. Remember, 98 % of parents eligible did not apply for vouchers!

It is more important than ever that all teachers join and pay dues to their unions/professional organizations. That is join either the LAE or the LFT. Stop being paralyzed by the bogus anti-union propaganda! For the first time in our history there is a strong coalition uniting teacher organizations and school boards. This coalition made the win possible in the voucher lawsuit and will be even more important in the upcoming legislative battles. Teachers need relief from the extremely unfair VAM and both principals and teachers are needlessly burdened by the dog-and-pony show required by the COMPASS. We need strong organizations representing teachers, administrators, and school board members to fight the continuing Jindal privatization campaign. Remember that this court decision has no effect on the addition of more charter schools that are being pushed harder than ever before.

In addition to joining your union/professional organization you can join my Defenders of Public Education for free! Just send me an email to louisianaeducator@gmail.com. Tell me who your state Representative and Senator are and the email you want me to use to send you updates on the important bills before your legislator votes. Together we can make a big difference!

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