A lawsuit initiated and aided by teachers union members in Louisiana aims to cut off funding to a certain type of public charter school — type 2 charter schools — which currently serve more than 13,000 of our children. That means if the union’s lawsuit is successful, 13,000 students would be kicked out of the schools they and their parents chose. The Louisiana Supreme Court will hear the case on September 5, with a decision likely coming down soon after.
As a parent of a student who may lose such a school, this lawsuit is personal. And it’s personal to the thousands of other parents who exercised their right to choose these schools because it’s what fit their children’s needs best. The consequences of this frivolous lawsuit are not to be diminished.
In 2014, Louisiana teachers union members and Iberville Parish School Board filed suit against the state, claiming that the state’s type 2 public charter schools are unconstitutional and should be defunded. It was an overt attempt to take away parents’ rights and put individual student education decisions in the hands of union bosses. Because for the union it’s about money, not what’s in the best interest of students. Moreover, the state has been forced to spend precious time and money fighting to protect students and parents when those resources could have been used to train and equip our teachers to be the best in the country.
Baton Rouge public schools have steadily added students since school started Aug. 9, easing …
Where the rubber really meets the road, however, is what happens to the 13,000 students whose public schools will shut down if the union succeeds. For all the talk about constitutionality, funding mechanisms, or what's best for the union and adults in the school system, where’s the talk about the students?
A recent data analysis, submitted to the Supreme Court in an amicus brief from PublicSchoolOptions.org and two Louisiana parents (I am one of those parents), revealed that on average 75 percent of students would be forced to return to lower-performing district schools (within a five-mile radius) than the type 2 public charter schools they currently attend. For example, of the 860 students enrolled in Lake Charles Charter Academy, 85 percent would be forced back to lower-performing district schools. At GEO Prep Academy of Greater Baton Rouge, 92 percent. At Impact Charter Academy and Advantage Charter Academy in the city of Baker, 66 percent. These are just a few examples.
In some cases, 100 percent — every single student, would be forced to return to a lower-performing school. That’s the case with Avoyelles Public Charter School, Delta Charter School in Concordia and Tallulah Charter School in Madison. And there are more.
As a parent, this data is striking and terrifying. Apparently, the union doesn’t like it either, though not for the same reasons as parents. The union filed a motion last month with the supreme court to strike this data from the court record so it would not be considered in the case. We hope the court allows it to be part of the case so we can bring light to what’s really important in this case: the 13,000 plus children who could very well be kicked out of their public schools.
Forcing children into schools that don’t — or have already failed to meet their learning needs — is a tragedy and parents will not stand for it. The teachers union is only looking out for themselves, not what’s best for the students they are supposed to serve. We hope the court will protect the education of these students and protect the rights of their parents to choose what schools work best.
Christin White-Kaiser is the parent of a type 2 public charter school student and national board member of PublicSchoolOptions.org. She lives in Westwego.