On Education, The Status Quo Must Go

Louisiana has failed generations of its young citizens by allowing a failed system of education to continue!

This is a strong statement and I recognize that it may make many people feel uncomfortable. Unfortunately it is true and our position at the bottom of any number of economic and social measures that compare us to our peer states is validation that we have failed. The following are some eye opening statistics that prove this point:

1. Our state was ranked 48th in the nation with an “F” for K-12 achievement in 2012.

2. One third or about 230,000 of our students “lack the grade-level knowledge and skills to succeed academically” according to Louisiana’s Department of Education.

3. Fewer than 26 percent of Louisiana’s fourth and eighth graders read and perform math at a “proficient” level, ranking Louisiana in the bottom three states nationally.

4. Louisiana ranks 41st for student scores on the ACT with only two districts in the entire state scoring above the national average.

5. We have the highest drop-out rate in the country.

6. Our students’ “Chance for Success” is ranked 46th.

7. Nearly half of Louisiana schools received a D or F rating in 2011 by the Louisiana Department of Education due to low school attendance, poor student achievement, and high drop-out rates.

Clearly our education system has failed our kids and we cannot continue to accept the notion that it will get better if we just give it more time and more money. The future of our children is too important! It is critical that we begin putting our young peoples’ interests ahead of grown-up interests.

Fellow citizens, this is the 21st century and competition for economic and social wellbeing is not confined only to between we Americans, we must prepare our young people to compete with people from all over the world. High quality education is not a luxury, it is a necessity!

In the coming days, House Education Chairman Rep. Steve Carter and I will be introducing Governor Jindal’s bold education reform package of bills. If passed intact, this package of bills will propel our state from the bottom of educational outcomes into a leadership role amongst all states. Our state will become the absolute leader in education reform and the American people will follow our example as we go forward. In order to accomplish this though, our citizens’ attitude of acceptance of the status quo must end.

We know that the teacher union leaders and defenders of the status quo will do anything they can to stop this bold education reform. If you believe as I believe that this may be Louisiana’s best chance in decades to break out of the bottom rank of American states, then we need you. In the coming weeks I will be in contact with you to let you know the status of our efforts. Please help us help us help our state.

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