Debbie Hargrave is a retired Lafayette Parish teacher.
Does Nancy Landry have a rather frightening hidden agenda in 2 of her 18 education bills before the legislature this term? PPEL supporters committed to Public Education need to be aware of the long term goals that may back up these bills which are explained as innocuous measures to possibly change the governance of our school system.
The 2 bills are as follows: House Bill 593 – This bill calls for a Constitutional Amendment that would exempt Lafayette Parish from following the Louisiana Constitution that requires the legislature to create parish school boards and provide for elections of its members. This will diminish or deny the right of the citizens of Lafayette to elect our school board members. House Bill 980 – This bill creates a commission to reorganize the governance of the Lafayette Parish School Board. The commission will be selected by the Chamber of Commerce (1), the Greater Southwest Louisiana Black Chamber of Commerce (1), Lafayette City President (3), Lafayette City Council (1), area Mayors (1), ULL President (1), South Louisiana Community College Chancellor (1), House Representatives from Lafayette(1), Senators from Lafayette (1), Lafayette Parish Association of Educators and Louisiana Federation of Teachers (1) and Lafayette Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana (1). This will be a total of 13 members with none representing the Lafayette Parish School Board.
Of great interest is an article posted on Nancy Landry’s Facebook page with a question as to whether “traditional school boards are becoming dysfunctional and obsolete.” The article is from Education Next – http://educationnext.org/lost-at-sea. It is titled “Lost at Sea: Time to jettison one of the chief obstacles to reform: the local school board” and was written by Lisa Graham Keegan and Chester E. Finn, Jr.
To me, the most troubling paragraph in the article is as follows: “Once every school is essentially a charter school, there will be no need for a centralized municipal-level body that makes decisions for an entire school system. Individual schools will respond to the needs of their families and employees while the state sets standards and monitor academic results.”
Representative Landry was quoted in The Independent as saying “I know we’re all looking forward to the next elections, but in case it doesn’t work out how WE want, I think we need to have this insurance policy on the shelf.” I heard her explain to the Youngsville City Council that the work of the Commission established by HB 980 would be something to “put on the shelf” just in case. She did not explain the “just in case” as the opportunity to deny the rights of Lafayette Parish voters as would be established by HB 593.
Privatization is not reform.