As the Louisiana legislative session begins on April 13, a squad of lobbyists for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry — the state’s Chamber of Commerce — will be joined by a new squad from One Acadiana and numerous other Chambers of Commerce. At the Capitol, they team with Gates, Walton and Broad Foundation-funded groups, including Stand For Children and Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, to sell a standardized and privatized agenda for public education to our all-too-willing legislators.

These groups may know business. They don’t know education.

Big money funneled through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and from multibillion dollar foundations drives the local Chamber-backed agenda. When the Chamber and its allies support Common Core standards, common curricular materials and common tests, the vendors of these materials profit. When they support voucher programs and charter schools, tax dollars leave local control. When they support the high-stakes accountability system that rates children and schools as failing and teachers as ineffective, community schools are shuttered.

Their narrative of failure destroys public confidence and cooperation, hastening standardization and privatization. Our children aren’t standardized, and we don’t want public education privatized! The Chamber-backed plan is deceptive and detrimental to children. Undermine local control and public confidence and stack on high-stakes tests and punitive accountability measures until students, parents and teachers can’t tolerate it any more. Beat the drum of “failing schools” until the favored model of standardization and privatization seems inevitable.

We parents and teachers reject this narrative of failure. We work every day to support public education that is locally controlled and locally accountable and that reaches and teaches every child. Parents and teachers will be standing in the door at the Capitol this legislative session saying “no more” to the Chamber-backed bills that drive standardization and privatization. We will say yes to bills that affirm local control and support students, teachers and public schools.

LABI, One Acadiana, LAPCS, etc., are counting on citizens to stay asleep. Yet, we are now awake. True power lies with the students, parents, teachers, local and state school board members, and legislators to retake control of public education policy. The squads of Chamber-backed lobbyists and their allies selling their standardized and privatized agenda must be rejected. Board members and legislators remember: You are elected by citizens, not paid lobbyists.

Parents and teachers know education best and will be at the Capitol to fight for our children and for our public schools.

Ann Burruss

adjunct instructor

Lafayette