Today, we kick off what I hope will be the most meaningful legislative session in the history of the state of Louisiana. For years, we’ve passively accepted the status quo, a failing public education system. As Ronald Reagan once said: “Status quo, you know, that is Latin for the mess we’re in.” But this session, with your help, we will finally clean up that mess.
Louisiana taxpayers spend $11,329 per student every year, more per pupil than 2/3 of our Southern peers. Average pay for Louisiana teachers is now ranked 24th in the nation at $50,349, which is fourth highest among the Southern states. Last year alone, Louisiana spent $8.6 billion on public education. Yet, our state was ranked 48th in the nation with an “F” for K-12 achievement in 2012 and nearly half of Louisiana schools received a D or F rating in 2011 by the Louisiana Department of Education. Roughly one-third of Louisiana students—or 235,000—are below grade level. These statistics are appalling and simply unacceptable.
The defenders of the status quo still say we still just aren’t spending enough, that somehow pouring more money into the same broken system will repair it. The evidence shows this assertion is false. Louisiana’s public school system is fundamentally broken and every parent of a child stuck in a failing school can testify to it.
As your elected representatives gather today in Baton Rouge, we all know Louisianans are fed up with our failing school system. In a recent Southern Media poll of more than 600 Louisianans, only four percent of respondents gave Louisiana public education an “A” grade and nearly one-third believe the quality of public education is actually getting worse.
This week, the House and Senate education committees will begin debating Governor Jindal’s education reform plan. We know the union bosses and bureaucrats who fear change will show up in droves and try to make this a fight about adults. But this fight isn’t about them. It is about the children and the future of our state.
This is not going to be an easy fight. There will be many attempts to distract, mislead and water down the reform. It is crucial that you stand with us. In order to win this fight and achieve the historic reform our kids need, we will need your help. Please begin calling and writing your elected representatives in the legislature and ask them to stand with Governor Jindal and me to reform Louisiana’s education system and continue to do so until the reform bills reach Governor Jindal’s desk.
Now is the time to act. Now is the time to stand up to the defenders of the status quo and say we can no longer tolerate a system that fails our children. It is time to fundamentally reform Louisiana’s public education system. We can no longer accept a public school system where failure is the status quo.
It is time to address this issue once and for all, and to give Louisiana’s next generation the best chance possible to succeed in the 21st century.
Thank you in advance for your help with this crucial effort.
Stephen F. Carter
Chairman Louisiana House Education Committee
To read more about Governor Jindal’s reform plan, click here.
To sign the pledge to support bold education reform, click here.