School Choice deserves its own Scorecard Badge

   

DC Mardi Gras and School Choice Week coinciding was exciting. Seeing so many notable people sporting yellow scarves while touting support for school choice brings hope that it’s finally happening. Even Louisiana’s governor, Jeff Landry, supports school choice. But can we keep the excitement going throughout the entire upcoming session?

No Longer Taboo

There was a time when anything but public school was frowned upon. Homeschool kids were called weird. Private schools were only for the wealthy. Then came Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI), Common Core, failing schools, and COVID shutdowns. Parents have been forced to choose outside of the public school bubble. Many are finding their children are thriving in new environments.

During the pandemic, parents were forced to explore ways to educate their children while schools were shut down. The public school virtual model certainly didn’t work for everyone. Parents being forced to address education, in its own way became a form of school choice. It was in this environment that homeschools, private schools, pods, and micro schools became more common.

The COVID silver lining also brought a rise in the number of engaged parents. When these new voices started asking questions they were quickly shut down, shrugged off, and even mocked. Now that they were paying attention, it didn’t take long for these parents to become fed up with the public education system. Perhaps this is why there was a significant rise in homeschooling around the same time.

Not all kids have the same needs

As a mother of four, I can attest that none of my children learn the same way or thrive in the same environment. One graduated from public school and that worked for him. Another had a lot of difficulty. We had concerns about possible disabilities while he attended public school. His teachers said there were no behavioral issues. He was simply falling behind in core subjects, like reading. After opting for our own form of school choice, removing him from public school to send him to a small private school, he is doing great. Since then, he has read above grade level and enjoys learning. His favorite subject is history.

The ability to choose what was best for our child made a world of difference. All parents should be able to make the same decision. We should fund students not systems. Only then will the needs of each student be considered and met.

Who’s in?

During School Choice Week we saw Louisiana’s governor, several legislators, and other influential people sporting yellow school choice scarves. They wore these scarves at DC Mardi Gras. Some even recorded videos expressing support for school choice. However, this year, supporting school choice was the popular thing to do. Hopefully, the momentum will continue through Louisiana’s regular session.

Louisiana legislators have carried school choice bills in the past. However, no meaningful reforms have gotten through the process. Hopefully, with Jeff Landry’s leadership, we can finally start moving toward a true school choice system in Louisiana. As of this writing, no school choice legislation has been pre-filed for the 2024 regular session. There’s still time, though (hint-hint).

I just have a fundamental belief that anything we can do to further empower the family to make a choice that’s best for them, we should do.” – Cade Brumley, Louisiana State Superintendent of Education

Introducing the School Choice Scorecard Badge

The inspiration for School Choice Week comes along every year. However, this year is different. Louisiana now has Jeff Landry at the helm, creating the realization that we might finally accomplish something in this space. How can we celebrate finding ourselves standing at the intersection of hope and now a will to get it done?

Our Citizens for a New Louisiana Scorecard has been a huge success. It doesn’t count when a lawmaker stumbles into the room and merely presses the right button. A lawmaker has to make an effort. They must show their support for important legislation outwardly and openly. They can speak about it in the legislature, committee, or publicly. Thanks to School Choice Week, we now have a starting point for lawmakers who are openly supporting this measure this year (when there’s a legitimate chance that it could get done).

The good news? Based on the initial list of supporters, this issue crosses all boundaries. It’s a bi-partisan issue supported by people on all sides. So, here’s the list of supporters who have the School Choice Badge on their scorecards so far. If you’re a lawmaker who’s not on the list, but would like to be, just reach out to be added.

School Choice’s “Day One” list

Here’s the list we have so far, with links to screenshots of posts from our friends at Pelican Institute.

Dixon McMakin
Laurie Schlegel
Rick Edmonds
Beryl Amedee
Michael Echols
Beth Mizell
Chris Turner

Here they are in group photos:

Mike Bayham
John Illg
Ken Brass
Jack McFarland
John Wyble
Blake Miguez
Kim Coates
Michael Melerine
Mike Fesi
Raymond Crews
Dustin Miller
Barbara Freiberg
Julie Emerson
Bob Owen
Dennis Bamburg

Scorecards and badges

Yes, all of these have already been added to the different lawmaker scorecards. However, there’s one thing you definitely need to know before you go fishing for them, though. If the member is new (freshman class of 2024), their score will probably be around a 6. That doesn’t mean they’re bad (anything over a 5 is good), it just means they’re new. It’s tough to grade lawmakers based on their associations and bills authored when we haven’t even been through the first regular session yet. However, many of their scores will probably get much better after the first session.

Here’s the Louisiana House of Representatives Scorecard

Here’s the Louisiana Senate Scorecard

Finally, here’s the list of all of the lawmakers (regardless of chamber) whose scorecard pages are donned with the school choice badge.

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