Louisiana is ranked 49th in the nation for the overall well-being of its children and 50th for their economic well-being, according to a report published by Agenda for Children, a New Orleans-based nonprofit.
The report was made possible by support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
“Despite all appearances to the contrary, this is not yet another report about Louisiana being at the top of every bad list and at the bottom of every good list,” it says.
The report addresses 16 indicators that impact childhood education ranging from family life, poverty level, and reading and math scores. In order to improve Louisiana’s low ranking, the Agenda for Children suggests that the state raise its minimum wage, expand the sate Earned Income Tax Credit, establish 12 weeks of paid family leave for all employees, increase affordable housing subsidies and need-based scholarships, expand access to apprenticeship and GED programs, and establish programs to improve job skills and connect young people to employment.
Boosting funding for early childhood care and education is also prioritized by the report, which has also received bipartisan support at the State Capitol.
The Agenda also suggests investing more in teacher preparation and raise teacher pay. Last year, teachers received an additional $1,000 state-funded raise, although their average pay remains well below the southern regional average and the national average.
The governor’s current budget proposal doesn’t allocate any money to teacher salary raises, but it does call for almost $40 million in new K-12 education spending that districts could spend on salary increases.