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Monday, September 01, 2014
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On Jan. 29 the public will have the chance to discuss educational changes and what improvements can be made in the school system. A panel of teachers, state representatives and school board members, among others, will discuss various education-related topics and answer questions from the community. (mgnonline.com)<br>

On Jan. 29 the public will have the chance to discuss educational changes and what improvements can be made in the school system. A panel of teachers, state representatives and school board members, among others, will discuss various education-related topics and answer questions from the community. (mgnonline.com)

Editorial: Choice still on table; leave it to the parents

Last Modified: Friday, March 08, 2013 10:48 PM

The deadline passed last month for local non-profits, public agencies and colleges to grant charters to Louisiana schools.

Curiously, there were no takers.

New Orleans website NOLA.com reported that such lack of participation had surprised some education onlookers, who had expected someone or some entity to step forward and try this new avenue for creating charter schools. No dice. Not yet.

A spokesman for the state Department of Education said there was interest and that there had been inquiries. DOE Press Secretary Barry Landry, however, told the American Press on Friday that he could not name any non-profit, public agency or school that had actually made inquiries because “discussions did not go that far.”

Under the terms of the Jindal education reform effort, the provision authorizing the new route for charter schools would have required such new authorizing entities to meet some stern standards. According to NOLA.com, “applicants must have an education mission, at least $500,000 in net assets, and have been incorporated for at least three years ... .” In other words, no pretenders allowed. You have to be serious about starting charter schools.

Some folks in Louisiana believe that this particular route for chartering schools was not based on any local demand, but that the Jindal administration was simply following the lead of charter school movements around the country. NOLA.com said 19 states plus Washington, D.C. allow for such “independent and multiple authorizers.”

Others say that those pursuing new charter schools already have ample opportunities in Louisiana. Using already existing channels, charter school enthusiasts can gain access to school buildings and other resources without taking the new route.

Nor have charter school enthusiasts, including the DOE, promoted the new provision, which became effective last October. There has been no outreach, NOLA.com reported. There has been no training.

Nonetheless, the notion of new authorizing entities for public schools should not be scrapped or ignored. A spokesman for the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools calls the new route “a great opportunity,” NOLA.com reported, but one that needs to be considered and exercised.

Louisiana people should not begrudge these new opportunities to create charter schools. Parents themselves will make the final decisions about where to send their children to school. Let every Louisiana school try its best to be their choice.

• • •

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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