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District money-grubbing should not preclude education

If it’s change that can help students learn, one thing you can rely upon is that Louisiana schools districts never will support it unless it brings them more money. This explains the unreasonable opposition the Louisiana Schools Superintendents Association has with starting up online charter schools for elementary and secondary education in the state.

As an educator with vast experience in online education – I have published and presented multiple papers about teaching these kinds of classes and have taught perhaps more online sections and different courses than any other college educator in the state – I can tell you it can bring significant advantages to some students although it is not for every student. At this level of instruction, students ideally should have hands-on situations because of their wildly varying degrees of desire and aptitude. But where students have health issues or whose families live in situations where getting a child to school on a regular basis would be a big hardship, as long as they are held to the same standards on testing and homeschooling is not desired, this is something that should be pursued as those who probably would miss schooling (as long as they had the technology) could receive education they otherwise likely would forgo.

But the organization representing district superintendents objects, claiming most all of its member voice reservations. The chief one appears, naturally, to be about money: not only would state dollars that would have gone to a child being educated in a district be diverted to the charter school, so would dollars raised in the districts, potentially to out-of-state operators.

However, what is wrong with that? If the local district is not expending the resources to educate that child, why should it retain that money? Besides, the majority of the money that school districts get is from outside the district, so the impact is not that severe, especially considering that almost a third of those resources are used for capital matters, meaning only about 28 percent of expenditures for operations are from local coffers. Recall that the districts, as all local governments do, serve as agents of the state so it has the final say over the distribution of funds if legally empowered.

If it can be shown that these schools can get education to children presumably unlikely to pursue education with demonstrated quality, parochial concerns should be brushed aside. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education should approve charter operators of this kind regardless of where they officially are based.

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