Bossier Schools Addresses Proposed State Legislation

  • March 26, 2024

    As representatives of Bossier Schools, we are going on record to express our strong opposition to the proposed LA GATOR Scholarship Program, as outlined in House Bill 745 and added to Senate Bill 313, which seeks to establish Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) in our state.

    While we appreciate efforts to improve educational opportunities for Louisiana students, we firmly believe that implementing ESAs through the LA GATOR Scholarship Program is not the appropriate solution. We have carefully reviewed the proposed legislation and identified several concerns that warrant your attention.

    First and foremost, the LA GATOR Scholarship Program poses a significant threat to the stability and viability of our public school system. By directly or indirectly diverting public funds from traditional public schools and into private accounts, ESAs undermine the financial resources essential for maintaining high-quality education for all students. This appropriation of public funds could exacerbate existing funding challenges that many public schools and the state are projected to face next year. For public schools, this could lead to increased class sizes, reduced resources, and limited educational opportunities for our students. As public school systems, we must protect the dollars our parishes and voters have committed to public education. Diverting public dollars to private schools and other programs through ESAs without fully funding public schools puts our students and schools at a distinct disadvantage.

    Furthermore, implementing ESAs through the LA GATOR Scholarship Program raises severe accountability and transparency issues. Unlike traditional public schools, as written, private schools or other educational institutions participating in the ESA program will not be subject to the same rigorous standards and oversight measures of public school systems. When considering the referenced term “school choice” as the primary purpose, we ask this: If a charter or private school does not have to give the same tests as public schools, follow the same restrictive laws as public schools, or receive performance scores that are available to the public, how can a parent choose as to which school is best for their children? The lack of accountability outlined in these bills further creates the potential to misuse taxpayer dollars and undermine efforts to ensure that all students receive a quality education.

    The LA GATOR Scholarship Program also threatens to exacerbate existing inequities in our education systems. By providing public funds for private school tuition, as has been seen in other states that have implemented ESAs, they would primarily benefit families who can already afford to send their children to private schools while leaving behind students from low-income families and marginalized communities that rely on public schools for their education. This further widens the gap between the haves and have-nots in our state and perpetuates systemic inequalities in access to education.

    In light of these concerns, we are urging our lawmakers to oppose the LA GATOR Scholarship Program and any legislation that seeks to establish ESAs in Louisiana. Instead, we encourage them to focus on strengthening our public schools and ensuring that all students have access to a high-quality education that prepares them for college, career and life success. We recognize that public service is complex, and we trust that our lawmakers will put the best interest of their constituents in their home parish ahead of all other agendas.

    On March 26, the Bossier Parish School Board met in special session to adopt a resolution in opposition of proposed state legislation that would negatively impact public education statewide. It was a unanimous vote of 11-0. That resolution can be viewed here.

    How can you help?

    Contact our state legislators to speak up for public education. 

State Officials