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

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.

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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.