Are charter schools really the answer to the problems in Louisiana education? Caroline Roemer Shirley would like you to think so, and she is quick to label anyone who questions this in any way as someone who doesn’t care about children. The fact is, there are some very good charter schools, and there are some horrible ones. And in many cases, those horrible ones are allowed to exist for years before the current “safeguards” can put them out of existence. In the meantime, they have harmed hundreds of children and wasted millions of taxpayer dollars.

Rep. John Bel Edwards’ bill, House Bill 703, would have given successful public school districts the authority to decide whether a proposed charter school would be allowed to operate in that district. BESE can override such a decision and allow an out-of-state, for-profit charter school to use locally generated tax dollars to operate a school with no local oversight.

The real issue in HB703 is local control of schools —should local communities decide how their education tax dollars are spent, or should that be done by BESE? The Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools (headed by Roemer Shirley) seems to have a great deal of influence over BESE (headed by her brother).

LASS members have spent their careers working for children, and we strongly resent being branded by Roemer Shirley as “the usual suspects.” We applaud Rep. Edwards for his efforts to bring about quality public education in Louisiana.

Donald Songy

associate executive director, Louisiana Association of School Superintendents