• Swamp Watch

Virginia Parents Fought Back. Will Louisianans Do The Same?

Updated: May 19

Virginia parents voted for parental involvement. Louisiana's education swamp still tries to keep parents in the dark. Read our previous pieces on the education swamp here and here.

Virginia’s gubernatorial race was dominated by a single issue: education. From the outset of the race, local fights over school curriculum, easing of academic standards, shut-downs, and mask mandates were front and center, with school board members even facing recalls in the suburban D.C. suburb of Loudoun County. Those debates evolved over the last several months, to a broader theme of parental involvement in local school decisions: First, failed Gubernatorial candidate Terry McAullife declared in a debate “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach”. Then came the now infamous National School Boards Association letter, and subsequent U.S. Justice Department memo going after parents who had become increasingly vocal at local school board meetings. The focus on parental involvement in schools intensified when it was revealed that one of the instances of violent parents cited by the NSBA involved a father in Loudoun County, VA confronting the school board over what appears to be a cover-up of sexual assault of his daughter, by a transgender student in the female bathroom, sparking outrage across the country. Last night in Virginia, parents made clear they will no longer be shut out of decisions made by local school boards, with Glenn Youngkin and other candidates winning up and down the ballot with a message of “parents matter”.

While many state school board associations have since disavowed or left the NSBA, including the Louisiana School Board Association, the debate over parental involvement should continue in Louisiana and across the country. While Louisiana school boards have not had as many high-profile incidents as those in Virginia, the public education swamp, led by the LSBA and Louisiana Association of School Superintendents have shown the same embrace of progressive ideology and disdain for parental involvement. As we covered in July, the LSBA claims it has “supported progressive school legislation” and even distributed the National School Boards Association’s “Transgender Students in Schools” guide, which calls for allowing biologically male students to use the female restrooms, compete in female sports, and even share rooms with biological females on overnight trips- without informing parents. While the LSBA has since tried to cover this up, we have the receipts. We also went over the LSBA’s advocacy against parental choice in schools and against allowing parents, families, and taxpayers the ability to access information about how local public schools are spending their financial resources by killing an effort to subject school boards to the Louisiana Checkbook.

Since our piece in July, the Louisiana School Boards Association has continued to argue for less data and transparency for parents. As the debate over school accountability scores raged before the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the LSBA aggressively fought not only against using normal school letter grades for the 2020-2021 school year, they even fought against a plan to make some of the data and scores that go into the letter grade process available. Parents, taxpayers, and students deserve all the data they can get to determine the educational performance of their schools- and the Louisiana School Boards Association fought them, with LSBA Executive Director Janet Pope saying “There is little debate that student outcomes were influenced...but everyone’s focus should be moving our student’s forward.” If we know student outcomes were influenced, why should parents not be able to access data to show just how much decline there was?

Perhaps the answer to that question was best explained by Michael Faulk, the Executive Director of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents. In explaining his organization’s opposition to the release of data and scores, Faulk told BESE of the dangers of too much data: “Consequences we’re looking at- the Contracts with principals performance objectives, contracts with supervisors’ performance objectives, contracts with superintendents’ performance objectives”. Faulk spent a lot of time talking about contracts for school leaders, and the superintendents he represents. Missing from his remarks? Any discussion of the impact of denying data to parents, taxpayers, and students. The Advocate even called out the LSBA and Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, saying “The discussion about the school performance scores was a case of superintendents and local school board members again taking aim at anything that smacks of measurement of the success — or failure — of public education.”

We couldn’t agree more.

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