Press Release: Tidmore Condemns Legislators on Public Schools
The House Education Committee rejected an excellent piece of legislation that would have given the children of New Orleans, many who have suffered waiting lists and crowded classrooms, a chance to attend a private or parochial school.
"How tragic," Christopher Tidmore said Tuesday afternoon, commenting on the bill's close defeat, 9 votes to 7. "Opponents of school choice have argued that vouchers would take resources out of the public school system. But, even when there aren't enough desks and teachers in the Recovery School District, they continue to advocate this outmoded position. And, the children of New Orleans suffer."
The bill, authored the term limited incumbent of District 82 Steve Scalise, whom Mr. Tidmore seeks to replace, would have created a pilot voucher program for students in Orleans Parish. The students that received the vouchers would be required to take the same standardized testing as public school students.
"The Archdiocese of New Orleans said that with vouchers, they could take in 5,000 students--children trapped in failing schools--or worse, without schools at all. And, they would be held to the same standards as any other public school child--passing the LEAP test. This time, opponents can't say that the standards would not be the same. What difference does it make if they are taught in private or public schools, as long as they get an education."
The bill would have specifically authorized vouchers for Orleans Parish, but Tidmore advocates in his platform that school choice should be put before the voters of every, individual parish. "If we can have local option for gambling, why can't we have local option for school choice? Pre-Katrina, almost 50% of students on the East Bank of Jefferson Parish went to private or parochial school. Why should their parents have to pay rising property taxes for a public system, and then pay tuition on top of that for private schools? Hold a referendum and let parents decide."
The nearly $6,000 that the public system spends per student would cover tuition at ninety percent of private schools in the metro area.
"I am particularly disappointed with the Republicans who voted against this bill. " GOP Representatives Carl Crane of Baton Rouge, the chairman of the committee, and A.G. Crowe of Slidell who decided to vote against the legislation. Tidmore asked, "Why won't Republicans act like Republicans? If they had, this school choice bill would have gone to the floor and probably passed."
Democratic opponents of legislation included Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge; Billy Chandler, D-Dry Prong; Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro; Avon Honey, D-Baton Rouge; Lelon Kenney, D-Columbia; Harold Ritchie, D-Bogalusa; and Monica Walker, D-Marksville.
"I just want to thank Father Maestri of the Archdiocese for the generosity that the he and the Catholic School system have shown to poor children in New Orleans. To the Republican caucus, I say, 'Find a way to go around the Education Committee and bring this school choice measure directly to the House Floor.'"
Christopher Tidmore is a candidate for the District 82 House of Representatives seat, vacated by the term limited incumbent Steve Scalise. He left his job as senior Reporter for 99.5 FM to run. His website is www.votetidmore.com.
June 6, 2007 10:38 AM