Coming up in Louisiana is the magical time of year where honest, ordinary citizens watch the skies grow dark and get a sense of dread the likes of which they do not feel at any other time of the year. I am, of course, talking about the legislature going into session. It’s going to be shaping up into a big one already with major fights over funding to universities and other issues taking the stage, but the Democrats’ House Leader and gubernatorial candidate, John Bel Edwards, has decided to file a bill that seems… ill-advised in the current climate.
Edwards’ bill is HB 21 (which you can read here), and it would keep the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education from approving charter schools in districts that have an “A” or “B” grade. That doesn’t sound too controversial on the face, because the schools in an “A” or “B” district seem like they’d all be good, right? Well, it’s based on averages and averages don’t always represent the full picture. Plenty of districts can get an “A”, but have low-performing schools.
So, if you are in an “A” or “B” district, but your child’s school is a subpar one, tough luck. There aren’t many alternatives. However, a charter school in that district would be welcome and offer competition to the failing school, which would have to shape up if they wanted to maintain enrollment numbers. Edwards doesn’t want that, however, and this piece of legislation impedes chances for parents to move their kids out of schools that don’t fit them.
Edwards is one of the many candidates running for governor in the state, and the only notable Democrat. This bill comes at a really bad time – people are already highly frustrated with education in the state and many are looking for alternatives. To take those alternatives away, no matter how little affect the bill might or might not have, is ill-advised at best. Right now, Edwards is polling in second place behind [mc_name name=’Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’V000127′ ] in the governor’s race, and it doesn’t look like he’ll ever get more than that. However, he certainly is not helping himself.