Teacher unions abandon kids to lobby; Rep. Pat Smith is a ‘thief’

I received a copy of an email sent by a union representative to all Vermilion Parish teachers and staff informing them of their school board’s decision to approve a “professional development day” on Thursday.

The only thing these teachers will be developing, however, is travel plans to the State Capitol so they can tell legislators just how much they oppose Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education reform plans. The St. Martin Parish School Board has also voted to shut down schools for a day in the name of “professional development.” And now we learn that East Baton Rouge public schools will be closed on Wednesday, giving parents less than 24 hours to make plans for their children.

Both union-pushed decisions will shut down schools, inconvenience parents and, worst of all, leave kids at home when they should be preparing for the important LEAP and GEE tests that start next week. This proves, yet again, that the unions are more concerned with protecting adult jobs than protecting our children’s future. This makes me sad and very angry. You can read the memo here.

Almost as shocking, we, the taxpayers, will pay these teachers not to teach. We will be paying them to fight against improved public education. And many parents will have to take an actual day off from work to watch the children these teachers won’t be teaching. How does that make sense?

Jindal opened the legislative session by saying, “The moral imperative to improve education goes to the heart of the American dream. For us to continue to provide that American dream for our children, it starts with a great education.” He went on to say, “One of the things that makes us such a great country is that your last name, the circumstances of your birth, your gender, your ZIP code should not determine your outcome as an adult.”

Jindal’s education plan provides more equal opportunities and more choice to parents and students. After 50 years of doing it the same old way—and getting failing results—it is time to change things in a bold fashion.

But the teacher unions and Democrats are opposed to real public education reform. Despite 50 years of failure, their only mantra is “more money and more time.” Many people in Louisiana are forced not only to pay taxes for public schools but also, in the quest for a quality education for their children, to pay private school tuition. That’s not how it should be.

Yet Rep. Pat Smith has no problem with what effectively is a double taxation. She blasts Jindal’s plan, saying, “Under the sham of reform, he is taking hard-earned money you pay in taxes away from public school classrooms and giving it to private schools that do not have to prove they offer a better education.”

The truth is that our money should be dedicated to the education of our children, not to a public teacher employment guarantee. Education is not another jobs program. Why shouldn’t the money follow children to whatever provider their parents choose for them? For the last 50 years, it has only gone to the “government-run school monopoly,” which has failed hundreds of thousands of children.

That, in fact, is the sham, Representative Smith, and you are a thief, having stolen the future of multiple generations of children during your tenure on the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board and now in the Legislature. Smith should be ashamed of her long record of fighting against a better education for all children, regardless of their background. She panders for votes while children suffer.

Now I just pray a majority of the legislators will ignore Smith’s—and the unions’—continuous lies and distortions and instead focus on children as they vote to pass Jindal’s plans for education reforms. After five decades of failure, our children deserve a chance and a choice to be taught by great teachers in great schools.

The time to act is now. If you wish to speak up on this issue, find the contact info to call or email your legislator here.

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