Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Educators Appalled by Request for Another Year of School Funding Freezes

Fourth Year Freeze Contributes To Larger Classes & Fewer Extracurricular Opportunities for Students

Just hours after President Obama urged the nation’s governors to invest more state resources in education, Louisiana’s top school board voted to ask lawmakers for a freeze on state aid to public schools for a fourth consecutive year.  LAE President Joyce Haynes was in the crowd when this decision was announced; she expressed her disappointment in those board members who went along with the vote.

“It’s extremely upsetting when you consider that the BESE has an obligation to do what’s right for their constituencies,” said Haynes. “We depend on them to have the courage to stand up to the governor.”

The action came as no surprise after Governor Jindal proposed the freeze in his budget for the 2012 legislative session. This request merely continues the governor’s track record of slighting Louisiana’s public school kids. In 2010, he made a $42 million error in the MFP when he failed to account for increases in student population. He also shorted the state’s K-12 and higher education systems another $68 million when he redirected the Federal Education Jobs grant. To date, districts still have not received the $79 million residue from the $147 million originally approved for Louisiana K-12 public schools. Educators continue to express concern over the impact this will have on Louisiana’s public school students who ultimately bear the brunt of the continued cuts, which contribute to increased class size and fewer extracurricular opportunities.

“Our state’s budget is hurting and we have a governor who continues to follow a national agenda that benefits big business,” said Haynes. “His continued use of legislation provided by the American Legislative Exchange Council benefits outside interests - interests that stand to benefit from the establishment of for-profit virtual schools, for-profit higher education providers and courses provided by commercial industries who want to turn our state into a business. This only creates a “lose-lose” situation for the children of Louisiana.”

President Haynes went on to discuss that the governor’s focus should be on investing in classroom priorities that build the foundation for student learning, while holding everyone – including administrators, teachers, parents, students and elected officials - accountable for student success.

“We applaud those BESE members - Ms. Lottie Beebe of Breaux Bridge, Ms. Carolyn Hill of Baton Rouge, Ms. Kira Orange-Jones of New Orleans and Ms. Holly Boffy of Youngsville - who had the courage to stand up for public education and vote to delay this request,” said Haynes.

The Louisiana Legislature will vote to either accept or reject BESE’s request when it convenes for the 2012 Regular Session next month.

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