Gov. Edwards fires back at Wall Street Journal criticism of state’s school voucher program

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On Sunday, March 20, 2016 The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial claiming that Governor John Bel Edwards “favors unions over minority students.” It makes false accusations that rely on unrealistic comparisons and contested data. As Governor John Bel Edwards explains he is firmly committed to improving education for all Louisiana children.

You can read the governor’s response to the Wall Street Journal below:

March 29, 2016; 11:22 A.M.

As a father, husband of a schoolteacher and governor of Louisiana, I am committed to improving education for all children in Louisiana. Your editorial “Back to Bad Schools in the Bayou” (March 19) gets it wrong. I reject the notion that supporting our dedicated classroom teachers is at odds with improving the education our children receive.

My position on choice initiatives has not changed. For children trapped in failing schools—schools that received a grade of “D” or “F”—vouchers can be a passport to opportunity. But there simply must be more accountability and transparency in the voucher program given the recent alarming reports that voucher schools fail to deliver either academic quality or the savings promised.

By definition “C” schools are not failing schools. We must increase our investment in those schools. I support informed parental choice. However, any policy that promotes poor choices at the expense of real improvement for public schools is unacceptable. Every school, including voucher and charter schools, must be held to strict accountability standards. However, current data does not indicate that voucher students are receiving a better education.

Accountability and oversight are critical. A chartering authority that is not accountable to parents, taxpayers and voters should not be granted the power of charter oversight or authorization. School districts that perform well under our accountability system should have the autonomy to decide whether a new charter school opens in their district.

I remain committed to improving education in our state. The best way to fulfill this basic promise is a strong public educational system.

Gov. John Bel Edwards
Baton Rouge, La.

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