As a teacher, when I think about the promise of education, I see Louisiana’s children. In a perfect world, I see classrooms with modern tools that help prepare students to make an impact on society. I see school professionals treated with the respect they so rightfully deserve. However, the reality in Louisiana is different. Our school systems are forced to work with slashed budgets. Our teachers resort to reaching into their own pockets to pay for supplies for their classrooms. Our students use outdated learning materials while sitting in overcrowded classrooms. School employees, in every line of work, put in extra hours to make a difference in kids' lives with little recognition for their efforts.

Louisiana Legislature's budget panel meets without discussing state revenue forecast dispute

Leadership in the Louisiana House of Representatives recently had a chance to begin the process of turning this around, but instead, rejected a measure that would have laid the groundwork to move forward on funding critical community services like our public schools. For more than a decade now, the proper and adequate state funding needed for education has been ignored, and school employees across the state are becoming increasingly unsettled. For far too long, their work has been undervalued, and their status as professionals has been overlooked. We cannot ask these dedicated public servants to continue to absorb the impacts of depleted school funding. State legislators must prioritize their focus to ensure Louisiana attracts (and retains) talented teachers and support professionals — our students deserve the best and brightest working in their schools.

As we approach the next legislative session, Louisiana taxpayers must make a commitment to hold our state representatives and senators accountable. As champions of our children, it’s time for us to come together in demanding lawmakers put politics aside when it comes to decisions concerning our children’s education. Legislators must support responsible investments in our public schools, the future of this state depends on it.

Deborah Meaux

president, Louisiana Association of Educators

Baton Rouge