Louisiana now offers over 117 charter schools in 19 out of 64 parishes, hosting nearly 60,000 children. One of these 19 parishes, Orleans, has the greatest percentage of public school children enrolled in charter schools in the nation.
So as the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools invites the state to join it May 4 to 10 in celebrating National Charter School Week, Executive Director Caroline Roemer Shirley encourages public school parents to know three things that make the movement unique in the state.
“These are the concepts I hope every public school advocate will explore during Charter School Week: Our school districts should promote choice, not monopolies. Our Principals are entitled to autonomy in how they achieve student performance, not micromanagement by a central office. And at all times, parents deserve accountability in how their child’s school performs, not excuses,” said Ms. Roemer Shirley.
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools says Louisiana has the third strongest charter school laws in the nation based on metrics such as quality, accountability, equitable funding and facilities, and no caps on charter school growth.
“What do I mean by charter choice?” asked Ms. Roemer-Shirley. “Choice means that parents select the school their child attends and teachers and principals choose to work at that school.”
Ms. Roemer said it is because of this choice that charter schools are promoting and achieving higher quality public education. Recent reports from the Louisiana Department of Education (below) and the Stanford Center for Research of Educational Outcomes (CREDO) back that claim up.
According to CREDO, Louisiana’s charter schools make larger academic gains in both mathematics and reading. This value-add equates to “50 more days of learning in reading and 65 more days in math” at a traditional public school.
The Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools works across the state to inform parents that charter schools are indeed free, public schools that are funded by tax dollars. Just like traditional public schools, charter schools can never charge tuition to students or parents.
Programs at LAPCS help prepare community boards to apply for charter school designation from their local school board or the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, as well as train boards once a charter is approved. Because charter schools are held accountable by a public, local board for student achievement, school leadership teams must meet academic standards or face closure.
“Louisiana has spent the last few years setting clear expectations for students and schools to meet high standards. Our education reforms, most notably charter schools, empower communities to reach those goals. I encourage every Louisiana citizen to make sure you are contributing to Louisiana’s changing world of public education and actually making it better. Join the charter movement. We’ll show you how,” said Ms. Roemer-Shirley.