The Voters Made A Clear Statement In Favor Of School Choice Last Night

In an election with fairly mixed – and that’s a charitable way to put it – results last night, one thing is unmistakable; namely, that the education reform plan passed over vigorous opposition by teachers’ unions and school board honchos in 2012 was a big winner.

One way to see that is voters might not have any use for Bobby Jindal, but they like his legacy just fine.

A press release from the Louisiana Federation for Children sums up the results well…

The Louisiana Federation for Children (LFC), the state’s voice for educational choice, congratulates endorsed candidates who won or advanced to a runoff in 49 of 56 races in which Louisiana Federation for Children Political Action Committee (LFC PAC) invested. These candidates are strong supporters of educational choice for Louisiana families.

“Voters sent a clear message that Louisiana lawmakers and BESE members must continue to advance and support innovative educational choice options,” said Ann Duplessis, president of the Louisiana Federation for Children.

“This is a huge victory for the Louisiana Scholarship Program, which provides low income families with the same opportunity as more affluent parents already have – the financial resources to send their child to the school of their choice.”

In the state’s legislative and BESE races, the Louisiana Federation for Children Political Action Committee provided more than $800,000 in independent expenditures to support school choice candidates in the primary election. This is the largest election investment in LFC’s history.

In the runoff election, LFC PAC will make significant direct contributions and independent expenditures in legislative and BESE races. LFC PAC will also support Senator David Vitter in the gubernatorial runoff.

“Senator Vitter is a strong supporter of school choice,” said Duplessis. “He has pledged to expand all educational choice options, including the Louisiana Scholarship Program.”

The Louisiana Federation for Children seeks to improve Louisiana’s K-12 education by advancing systemic and sustainable public policy that empowers parents, particularly those in low-income families, to choose the education they determine is best for their children. LFC supports a wide range of school choice initiatives by building strong legislative coalitions and working closely with allies. We also fight against bills and regulatory changes that would hurt existing school choice programs.

LFC PAC election highlights:

  • LFC PAC supported candidates in seven of the state’s eight Board of Elementary and Secondary Education districts. Six candidates won their races outright and the other advanced to the runoff.

  • LFC PAC supported 13 candidates for State Senate. Nine out of 13 candidates won in the primary.

  • LFC PAC supported 36 candidates for the House of Representatives. 27 candidates won in the primary and five candidates advanced to the runoff.

It’s been thought for a while that Common Core, which was intertwined with the education reforms when passed in 2012 though not a particular feature of school choice, was an electoral cancer on them. And in the BESE races there was an entire slate of anti-Common Core candidates running under the “Flip BESE” banner. Most of the “Flip BESE” candidates were thinly-disguised advocates for the teachers’ unions, and only one, Kathy Edmonston, appears to be in a position to win on Nov. 21.

Edmonston – who is more or less a conservative Republican outside of issues surrounding BESE and collected support as a common core opponent – is running in District 6, which represents most of the Baton Rouge area, in a district currently represented by BESE chairman Chas Roemer, a highly-prominent school choice proponent who at the last minute decided not to run for re-election. Edmonston finished with 47 percent of the vote last night. LFC and Empower Louisiana, another pro-school choice organization, split their support between Jason Engen and Laree Taylor, who combined for 37 percent. Engen is in the runoff, and he’ll need to run an outstanding campaign to win.

And turnout in BESE 6 was a mere 36 percent, which indicates that even in the area where Common Core opposition produced the best results it wasn’t an issue motivating people to get to the polls.

But outside of that race, it’s hard to find examples of the educational status quo outpolling school choice and reform. In an election with muddled results throughout, this was one issue the voters were clear on.

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