But the threat to school choice does not end with BESE. The upcoming runoff in the Louisiana governor’s race could have major implications. In that race, Democrat State Representative John Bel Edwards and Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter could not be further apart.
Edwards, the Louisiana House minority leader, is a strong opponent of school choice. Edwards voted against the expansion of Louisiana’s school voucher program in 2012. That’s fair enough; the voucher program has had mixed results at best. The Louisiana Department of Education is looking at supplementing the vouches with tax rebate scholarships.
It’s one thing to be opposed to a voucher program that has had disappointing results so far. It’s another thing to oppose charter schools, which have proven to work in New Orleans. But John Bel Edwards has emerged as one of Louisiana’s biggest opponents of them. He criticized them in comments to the Louisiana School Boards Association last week. Even worse, Edwards in this year’s legislative session filed a bill that was easily defeated, which would have restricted where the state could authorize charter schools.
Edwards is not just against school choice and charter schools, he’s against accountability,period. He voted against legislation in 2010 that created Louisiana’s current letter-grade system that measures progress in schools. In a debate earlier this year, Edwards says those letter grades “create a false picture” of how schools perform.
David Vitter by contrast is a strong supporter of education reform. He has pledged to expand the various school choice options that are available to Louisiana’s students.
Louisiana voters already voted once this year to keep school choice. Parents who are concerned about their children’s education will have come back out later this month to vote again. This time, they need to vote for David Vitter.