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La. Teachers’ Union President: School Choice ‘Taking Our Children From Us’


Amidst a controversy over the widespread education-reform project Governor Bobby Jindal has begun in Louisiana, the head of the state’s largest teachers’ union has essentially claimed that children belong to teachers’ unions as much as they do their parents. Criticizing the program in an interview on April 29 with Baton Rouge’s WBRZ, she said ”There isn’t anything fair about using something like that only against the public schools and then taking our children from us, and sending us where we don’t know what they’re getting.”

Jindal’s education-reform program for Louisiana, which I wrote about for NRO last year, is one of the nation’s most comprehensive efforts to offer parents the greatest choice possible in their children’s education. It will extend vouchers for private and religious schools to hundreds of thousands of Louisiana students who attend poor-quality schools, though the exact extent of the program is still being considered in court. Haynes’s group, the Lousiana Association of Educators, is well aware that that such a sweeping measure will be harmful to its interests, since it would lead to a significant number of students’ leaving the state’s public schools (a shift that already occurred, into charter schools, in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina) — and the radically left-wing notion that children belong to an entire community as much as they do their own parents (this is, of course, not the first time teachers’ unions paid more attention to far-left ideas and interests than the parents and children they are employed to serve). 

Admittedly, Jinald’s reform does choice in terms of unionized public-school teachers’ choices, by eliminating the option to have automatic salary increases every year unrelated to merit, and the option to secure lifetime tenure after three years of teaching.

The official website of the governor says that this “adds to a long history of strange statements coming from the coalition of the status-quo,” including, from other representatives of the LAE, comparisons of Jindal’s education policies to Hurricane Katrina and the claim that low-income parents have “no clue” how to decide what education their children should receive.

Haynes’s words seem especially timely in light of the controversy regarding MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry’s criticisms of the “private notion of children.” In a commercial for the network, Perry explained that “we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families.” They also, apparently, belong not just to their teachers’ — but their teachers’ union. Harris-Perry, as Deroy Murdock noted on the Corner recently, happens to live in Louisiana, and chose to send her daughter to one of New Orleans’s most expensive private schools — apparently she didn’t mind taking her child away from the teachers’ union.