Baton Rouge, LA — Speaking from a parent perspective, Parents Across America NOLA and people representing several other parent organizations will hold a press conference today at 2:00 p.m. on the steps of the Capitol in Baton Rouge. They have set their focus on concerns with HB 976, with its heavy emphasis on the expansion of charter schools, which they see as pitting parents against parents in the long run. Other major concerns include concern for equitable treatment of children with special needs.
Several parent organizations plan to unite at the Capitol Thursday, when HB 976 is to be debated on the House floor. Those groups include: Parents Across America (PAA) a national organization; Evangeline CAN (Community Autism Network); St. Landry Abilities; ABLE to Learn; Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC); and the Bayou Chicot Elementary School PTO (Parent Teacher Organization.)
Parent advocate Karran Harper Royal, a co-founder and local representative of the national PAA, and a member of the statewide group the Coalition for Louisiana Public Education, outlined some of the many parental concerns specifically with HB 976:
- Vouchers and non-public schools are allowed to discriminate against students with disabilities;
- Lack of accountability system for the non-public schools, which prevents parents from having knowledge of the quality of the non-public schools, preventing fair comparisons;
- Removal of the requirement that teachers in charter schools have certification;
- “Parent Trigger” concept, which pits parents against parents in their own schools, and positions them to be lobbied by Charter Management Organizations;
- Positioning local schools to go into the RSD, but not escape the RSD even after years of failing, which is defined as a “disingenuous attempt to provide parental choice.”
Other speakers at the press conference include: Bambi Polotzola, parent, education advocate and founding member of “St. Landry Abilities;” Ashana Bigard, of “ABLE to Learn;” Alisha Fontenot, Evangeline Parish public school parent; and Kelly Fisher, Orleans Parish public school parent.
- Polotzola will emphasize the value of a highly qualified and certified teacher in every classroom paid for with taxpayer dollars.
- Fontenot will focus on the value of accountability measures for all schools charged with educating the students of Louisiana, particularly when paid with public funds.
- Fisher will discuss from personal experience the importance that children with disabilities not be left out of the array of education reforms.
- Harper-Royal will define and address the specific “Parent Petition” portion of HB 976.