(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
Patricia Levesque, veteran of the school reform wars in Florida, cautions edu-reactionaries in Louisiana against making the same mistakes that their compatriots in Florida made (and continue to make) in the Shreveport Times.
Florida lawmakers instituted K-12 reform in 1999, and efforts were rewarded with strident opposition from a vocal minority. Die-hard skeptics grew increasingly isolated, however, as Florida’s childhood illiteracy rate plunged, high-school graduation rates improved and the number of black and Hispanic students passing advanced placement exams tripled. There is still much more to do in Florida, but the progress is undeniable.
Louisiana reform skeptics should take care not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Rather than resisting reform, Louisianans of all backgrounds should be working together to maximize opportunities and achievement for students. Louisiana’s public school system will enjoy much brighter days once parents routinely match the needs of their child with the strengths of their schools.
As the debate over reform continues in Louisiana, remember that a century from now the vast majority of Louisiana students will still be attending public schools. Nothing has been done that will change that basic fact. Students can and should attend their public school by choice rather than simply by zip code.