A joint statement from Louisiana Federation of Teachers Interim President Larry Carter and Louisiana Association of Educators President Debbie Meaux
The unprecedented flooding that inundated South Louisiana in the past week has left many with questions to which we don’t yet have the answers. We appreciate the swift response of Governor John Bel Edwards and his administration to the crisis, understanding that there is no way to completely satisfy the widespread loss incurred by so many.
Tens of thousands of families have lost their homes, including many of our public school teachers, school support professionals, and administrators who dedicate their lives to our students.
Some of the schools in our districts are damaged beyond repair; others need extensive renovation. A more expansive inventory is underway, but it will be a while before anyone knows the magnitude of the damage sustained to Louisiana’s classrooms.
Our education leaders are struggling to provide educational services for those schools and students displaced by the floodwaters’ aftermath; they’re trying to do this as quickly as possible, but we simply do not know when all of our districts will be ready to serve the thousands of school children who live in the impacted areas.
We do know, however, whatever the challenges may be, Louisiana’s communities will meet them. Our school leaders will rise. Our teachers will rise. Our school employees will rise. Our organizations are determined to restore our Constitutional obligation to provide every Louisiana child with the public education they deserve. There’s no doubt about it, we will need widespread assistance to keep that promise. To accomplish this, we call upon Governor Edwards, members of the Louisiana Legislature, and our congressional leaders to do everything in their power to provide the resources needed to rebuild the traditional public schools impacted by this disaster. We ask our community organizations, our churches, and our charities to assess the needs of our school buildings and assist local education leaders in their efforts to return students to their classrooms.
We call upon parents to be patient as our school districts come together to rebuild; we ask them to remain confident that their children are our number one concern.
We urge all of our leaders to remain focused on restoring Louisiana’s public school system, and to stand wary of any attempts by outsiders to take advantage of this crisis. We simply cannot risk handing over our locally controlled schools to private entities looking to cash in on this unfortunate situation. Now, more than ever, Louisiana’s public schools need access to the resources to which they were promised – we can’t afford any diversion of funds to groups who tout quick solutions during this time of need. Our school boards, parents, and communities know what’s best for the schools and children of their districts, and are fully capable of determining the most appropriate next steps.
This current time of uncertainty is temporary. It is crucial for us to make the right choices as we take on the daunting task of rebuilding our communities. We have a chance to get it right, and if we succeed, we will emerge stronger than before. As sincere stakeholders in our public education system’s well-being, we pledge to do everything in our power to build a clear path to educational excellence for the children of Louisiana.