Public schools need stability, not disruption

Public schools need stability, not disruption

Two decades of well-intentioned public education “reforms” have seen No Child Left Behind, the Race to the Top and the Common Core state standards. Recent years have also seen a rapid growth in private-school voucher programs and charter schools. Author and public education advocate Diane Ravitch, writing in Time Magazine, says these movements have disrupted the way Americans educate their children in public schools, with no meaningful improvement in outcomes to show for it. What is needed most now is stability:

If the billionaires supporting charter schools and vouchers are serious about improving education, they would insist that the federal government fully fund the education of students with disabilities and triple the funding for schools in low-income districts. Teachers should be paid as the professionals that they are, instead of having to work at second or third jobs to make ends meet. Teachers should write their own tests, as they did for generations. States and districts should save the billions now wasted on standardized testing and spend it instead to reduce class sizes so children can get individualized help from their teacher.


How big is Louisiana’s state government?
State government investments – financed by taxes and fees – play a critical role in educating our children, maintaining our roads and bridges, protecting our environment and keeping people healthy. So the size of state government, relative to a state’s overall economy, provides a good measuring stick of a state’s willingness to make these investments. A new analysis by the Legislative Fiscal Office looks at how Louisiana’s government stacks up to the 49 other states. It turns out that when you exclude federal dollars, Louisiana ranks in the bottom-third of overall spending. But it’s a different story when you count federal dollars. Greg Albrecht explains

The inclusion of federal financing changes Louisiana’s ranking significantly, in most of the last ten years from a bottom-half ranking in terms of state effort financing to a top-half ranking in terms of state effort plus federal financing. (…T)he significant ranking change for Louisiana (when federal financing is included) evidences the State’s disproportionate receipt of federal support, especially in the years after Hurricanes Katrina & Rita.

Banning evictions in the winter
Evictions are always a tremendous strain on the resources of struggling families, but they can be a death sentence during the winter months for people living in cold climates. That’s particularly true for people with health issues, the elderly, or children. For that reason, Seattle’s city council has decided to ban certain evictions during the winter months. Zack Budryk of The Hill has more

The final version of the bill will apply to the period between Dec. 1 and March 1. Sawant’s original language included the period from Nov. 1 to April 1. [City council member] Sawant said she thought that winter evictions were “cruel,” and that they disproportionately affect people of color and women, according to the Seattle news source. … The city would be the first in the United States to enact a months-long ban, although others have restrictions based on inclement weather. It does not apply to tenants engaging in criminal and nuisance activity, or those engaging in behavior that makes neighbors unsafe.

While Louisiana’s winter weather isn’t too harsh, the state does have eviction laws that favor landlords while offering few protections for tenants. As a result, New Orleans has eviction rates nearly double the national average, with significantly higher rates of eviction for black tenants than for other tenants.


Teacher pay frustration
Gov. John Bel Edwards campaigned for re-election last year on a platform of support for education. Yet Louisiana’s public school teachers are still paid below the Southern average, and the governor’s budget recommendations to the Legislature would not change that. While the proposed budget asks for an additional $38.9 million for school districts, none of that is earmarked for teacher pay raises. As Will Sentell elaborates in The Advocate, teacher raises on average would likely be much smaller than the $1,000 pay raise enacted last year: 

The governor said at a teachers’ meeting about 13 months ago that he was mapping plans to get pay to the Southern average by 2022. But his spending blueprint for the legislative session that begins March 9 includes no such increase. Instead, the Edwards administration said teachers will need to depend on modest raises — possibly around $200 — from local school districts with some of the $39 million boost in state aid for public schools that he proposed.

Didja Know 7: February 12, 2020

After a winter hiatus, The Didja Know? Podcast is back! In our first episode of 2020, LBP executive director Jan Moller and policy analyst Neva Butkus discuss the newest stalemate at the Revenue Estimating Conference, a lawsuit filed by Gov. John Bel Edwards against Treasurer John Schroder over unclaimed property and the proposed state budget for Louisiana. Click here to listen.

Number of the Day
192,700 – The number of children that Louisiana would need to lift above the poverty line for our state to have the lowest child poverty rate in the nation (Source: Agenda for Children)