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Education and Workforce Development.

Years of state commitment to education reform are now yielding positive results in Louisiana. Graduation rates are improving, along with ACT scores, and the achievement gap continues to lessen. There are more opportunities for school choice than most other states in the nation, and traditional public schools are responding to competition with additional course offerings such as Course Access and more relevant technical training in high school through programs such as JumpStart.

The challenge remains great. Our state still lags in national rankings of student readiness, and likely will continue to do so as standards and assessments are slowly but methodically raised to be more competitive with other states. Education and jobs are the paths out of poverty, and Louisiana’s citizens deserve a high-quality education and the opportunity to prosper. LABI will continue to advocate for students, taxpayers and employers to connect a more skilled workforce with high-wage, high-demand jobs in a 21st century economy.


Major Issues.


Early Childhood Education

Issue: High-quality, affordable and available childcare greatly affects the productivity of Louisiana’s workforce. Early learning opportunities, particularly during the first three years of life when the brain is forming more than 1 million new neural connections every second, lay the foundation for school readiness. Too many working parents in Louisiana do not have access to affordable, safe, high-quality childcare environments, and too many children enter kindergarten without basic skills and knowledge for learning.

LABI Position: Support high-quality daycare and early childhood learning.

Reasoning: Unreliable childcare can increase absenteeism and job turnovers for parents in the workforce. Affordable, high-quality early childhood education can help not only employers and parents, but research shows it leads to improved school readiness for children, higher wages later in life, and a broad positive impact on society with improved public health, less crime, and better educated, skilled workers.

Workforce Development

Issue: Louisiana’s unemployment crisis is not due to a lack of available jobs, but is largely the result of the shortage of qualified workers who are drug-free and possess both the soft and technical skills required in our rapidly changing economy. In particular, the state continues to have a sizeable “middle skills” gap where available jobs require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree.

LABI Position: Support the transformation of Louisiana’s workforce development system to encourage partnerships across K-12 schools, higher education, and employers to create and fill high-demand, high-wage jobs. Encourage the coordinated and streamlined utilization of public funds and programs — federal, state and local — toward data-driven workforce development goals. Support programs in high school that offer dual enrollment, college credit, industry-based certifications, and skills training, including work-based learning opportunities. Advocate for targeted training and recruitment of skilled trades for men and women to combat the workforce shortage in critical sectors such as health care, construction, IT and manufacturing. Support initiatives to bring adult learners back into the workforce, including rational and effective re-entry programs and policies for ex-offenders. Overall, the voice and perspective of Louisiana employers must be included in all efforts from top-to-bottom in workforce development.

Reasoning: Louisiana has an urgent need for a skilled workforce that requires strong partnerships across the private and public sectors.

Public School K-12 Accountability System

Issue: It is critically important that the Louisiana business community continue to protect, support, and strengthen the K-12 public school accountability program from ongoing attacks from the educational bureaucracy.

LABI Position: Protect, support, and strengthen the K-12 accountability program. Stop efforts to eliminate or suspend accountability components such as a rigorous curriculum, statewide testing, or the assignment of letter grades to schools.

Reasoning: The foundation of a strong public-school system must include academically rigorous curriculum, tests to measure progress, and a plan to improve schools and districts with low student achievement.

Post-Secondary Governance: Support the creation of a single board for post-secondary education to manage and oversee the state’s four-year post-secondary education institutions as well as separate LCTCS board to govern the state’s community and technical college system, recognizing the unique mission of two-year institutions and their significant role in workforce development. Support recommendations to better define the role, scope and mission of each higher education institution, restructure governance to maximize efficiency, and reorganize campuses to support their missions and align them to regional economic development priorities where relevant.

Geographical proximity, enrollment, graduation rates, students’ performance on professional examinations, job placement and retention, duplication of programs and accreditation difficulties are starting points for consideration. Shared facilities, faculty, administrative systems and services, and supplies for technical training (secondary, technical college and four-year universities) should be part of the effort to consolidate and improve efficiency.

Post-Secondary Funding: Support tuition and fee autonomy. Implement performance-based funding in the state formula for higher education. Seek to maximize federal funding to creatively support students to complete their degrees and credentials.

Post-Secondary Reform: LABI recognizes the economic imperative to improve retention rates on college campuses and graduate many more students every year in both two and four-year institutions. LABI supports removing barriers to smooth the path for adults to re-enter college as well as campus-level innovations such as mentoring, mapping and stacking credentials, decreasing the time-to-degree, putting textbooks online, and reforming remedial coursework.


Current Issues.


Paycheck Protection: Support legislation to reform or eliminate taxpayer-funded bodies (such as local school districts) from collecting membership dues or other monies for organizations that engage in political activities (such as teacher unions) through automatic payroll deduction.

Teacher Tenure: Support legislation to repeal tenure for new teachers. Oppose legislation that would expand tenure, sabbatical and extended leave benefits for all school employees, including post-secondary institutions. Oppose any legislation that would repeal or damage Act 1 of 2012.

High Standards: Support high standards and rigorous curriculum in mathematics, science, and English Language Arts (“ELA”). Support “Mastery” as the minimum student proficiency level in assessments (as opposed to the current “Basic”), which would put Louisiana students on par with students in other states for comparative purposes. Oppose “hold harmless” policies, curving of school letter grades, or other attempts to artificially inflate performance statistics.

Post-Secondary Alignment: LABI will encourage the continued development of a post-secondary education system (adult education, technical colleges, community colleges and university systems) that will be efficiently coordinated to provide shared resources and facilities, non-duplicated offerings and articulation agreements. This system should be tailored in each region of the state to address the proper mix of special workforce training programs, vocational and technical training, industry-based certifications, two-year associate degrees and advanced degrees, and to provide a rapid response to changes in business. Development and direction of these systems should include input from the business community and include systems designed to measure the progress of each educational component, holding accountable those responsible for the success of their students. LABI encourages the state to adopt and fully implement higher admission standards for four-year universities, discontinue low-enrollment or duplicative programs, and improve articulation and transfer agreements from two-year to four-year schools.

Conflicts of Interest: Support legislation that would prohibit employees of local school systems from serving on BESE.

Local School Board Reform: Act 1 of the 2012 legislative session included local school board reforms, namely prohibiting school board members from making personnel decisions. Support additional legislation and policy that would encourage the focus of local school boards to be on improving failing schools and raising student academic achievement. Examine bureaucratic impediments to reform at the local school board level and support legislation that would require local school boards to be more accountable for the academic achievement of the students in their districts.

Career and Technical Education: Continue to support K-12 schools and community colleges as they seek to improve the delivery of skills training in partnership with Louisiana employers. LABI supports improvements to the JumpStart program to incentivize training and certification for students in fields with high-demand, high-wage jobs.

Adult Education: Support legislation and policy to reorganize and improve the high school equivalency diploma, to provide “soft skills” or “employability” training, and to identify adults who can be recruited into post-secondary training and enter the workforce.

School Choice: Support  expanded school choice  for  students. Other avenues to increase choice, such as education savings accounts, tax credits or deductions for tuition to attend nonpublic schools, should also be supported.

Charter Schools: Support  the expansion of quality charter schools.

Teacher Quality: Support efforts to improve teacher quality, including policy changes to improve teacher preparation, in Louisiana. The classroom teacher is the single most important factor in and influence on students’ educational success, and LABI will work to strengthen the state’s professional teaching corps.

School Leadership: Support efforts to identify and recruit outstanding individuals with records of success into school leadership positions, especially principals and superintendents. Support alternative certification paths for principals that allow and encourage professionals and leaders in fields outside of education to consider becoming principals.

8(g): Support the integrity of the 8(g) fund and oppose any attempts to use those funds to supplant general fund revenues for education.

Classroom Funding: Re-examine the state’s school finance funding formula, the MFP, to determine how to get more money into the classroom, ensure that tax dollars follow the student, and determine the actual cost of delivering quality educational services.

TOPS: Support efforts to strengthen the academic requirements to receive the merit-based Tuition Opportunity Program for Students scholarship and oppose efforts to weaken current requirements. Support the substitution of ACT WorkKeys assessments (silver or higher level attainment) as an alternative eligibility requirement to the ACT score for TOPS-Tech scholarships, and support other TOPS-Tech revisions that contribute to building a trained, ready workforce.

High School Redesign/Dropouts: Support efforts to reduce Louisiana’s public school dropout rate and draw recent dropouts back into school or training, including the creation and expansion of courses that emphasize technical training.

Freedom to Work: Over time, a number of state entities have created artificial barriers to work in the form of occupational licensing. Unless a license is necessary for public health and safety, individuals should be “free to work.” LABI supports efforts to review occupational licensing and remove costly and time-consuming barriers when possible.

Education Flexibility: Support flexibility in education delivery models and learning modalities.  In today’s fluid environment, it is important to acknowledge the need for educational flexibility in order to best meet a child’s learning needs inside and outside the classroom.


Ongoing Policy.


School Discipline: Support efforts to address the issue of school discipline and work to identify solutions to classroom management problems while keeping disruptive students in learning environments. Support efforts to create effective alternative schools for students who do not perform well in traditional school settings.

Parent/Teacher/Citizen Empowerment: Support efforts to provide parents, citizens and educators with factual information about education issues at all levels and teach them how to get involved and make the education system work for them and their children.

Collective Bargaining: Oppose legislation mandating collective bargaining and/or binding arbitration by any public body.


Contacts.


Lauren Gleason serves as Education and Workforce Development Council Director. In this capacity, she coordinates business involvement in education issues, ranging from early childhood to workforce development.

Lauren Gleason

Director, Education & Workforce Development Council

Kim Carver

Chair, Education & Workforce Development Council
Gulf Coast Bank & Trust

A representative with the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry said a recent study showing Louisiana near the bottom of the U.S. in business rankings was not a surprise.

According to TheAdvocate, the Louisiana business environment and overall quality of life currently is nearly at the bottom of a national ranking, where it has been for the last 10 years.

The study was conducted by Legatum and released in July. The study’s findings state that Louisiana’s economic prosperity ranking dropped four places from 46 to 50 this year, a ranking that was determined by factors such as health, social capital and education.

“The underlying factor in almost all of Louisiana’s poor performance in the data sets Legatum chose to measure is the lack of opportunity for employment,” Jim Patterson, LABI vice president of government relations, told the Louisiana Record. “Without a healthy private sector, job opportunities are naturally limited.”

While there may not be enough opportunity in the state, Patterson said, other rankings are more encouraging. 

Patterson quoted a recent report from 24/7WallStreet.com that showed Louisiana currently ranks among the top 10 states for unemployment even though it experienced the ninth-lowest 5-year annual employment growth at +0.4 percent.

Patterson said the Legatum report leaves out certain items that are closely connected to the economic system in Louisiana.  

“Despite the tremendous renewed vigor in manufacturing nationally, Louisiana’s is relatively anemic. Factor in items that were not examined in the Legatum report – for example, the greater risk that a Louisiana business will be sued and the high insurance costs that arise from it – and the picture for Louisiana’s future economy becomes even more bleak,” Patterson said. 

Overall, Patterson said, the lack of reform is to blame for many of the state’s woes.

“Louisiana’s lack of political will to address the headwinds retarding growth in our private sector remains the greatest barrier to prosperity for our citizens,” he said. “Indeed, the tax policies adopted in 2015 and during this 4-year term have only added to the burden businesses face in our state. Louisiana had a flourishing manufacturing sector that has been particularly hampered by these tax policies.”

By: Stephen Waguespack

Doesn’t it seem like we are constantly being reminded lately of Louisiana’s many challenges?

Earlier this year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform ranked our legal climate dead last among states. They cited our legal policies, ethics, organizational structure and judicial elections as causes, as well as the impact it all has on our insurance rates and job creation. Last week, the U.S. News and World Report released its annual ranking of the states and, you guessed it, we came in last. Factors cited were our low scores in categories such as health care, education, economy, opportunity, infrastructure, crime, fiscal stability and quality of life. Our elected leaders are battling the latest version of the fiscal cliff while many communities across our state are battling the impacts of a weak economy on working families.  A recent LSU survey revealed that an overwhelming majority of Louisianans have lost trust in elected officials and their ability to work together to solve the state’s challenges. Heck, even the owner of our beloved New Orleans Saints, Tom Benson, recently passed away at the age of 90.

However, slipping through the cracks of this latest barrage of negative information, some good news came out last week that will make a monumental difference for many Louisiana families.

The Louisiana Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling, declaring what many thought was, quite frankly, already well established: that charter schools are indeed public schools. As a result, the court affirmed that the state education funding formula (known as the MFP) can be used to educate public school students attending public charter schools. The ruling is a huge relief to the thousands of students choosing to attend local public charter schools across Louisiana and a tremendous burden off the backs of those parents doing everything they can to put their children in a learning environment that meets their needs.

This ruling makes so much sense. It underscores the Legislature’s intent in crafting how we fund public education – that the dollars should follow the child. The court should be commended for making the right decision in this case.

Plaintiffs argued that the Constitution required MFP dollars to only go directly to the traditional parish and city school systems, regardless of what public charter school was physically educating the public student attached to the funding. The court, in its ruling, seemed to sense the inequity this would cause and stated:

“We disagree with the appellate court’s ruling and find the New Type 2 charter schools are in fact public schools. While there is no definition of “public elementary and secondary schools” in the constitution, our legislature has expressed that charter schools are “independent public school[s].” La.R.S. 17:3973(2)(a). We agree with defendants’ contention that affirming the court of appeal’s rationale, i.e., denying MFP funding because the school is not under the jurisdiction of a parish or city school board, could potentially have adverse consequences to other charter schools, not just New Type 2 charter schools. To interpret La. Const. art. VIII, § 13(B), in the manner the plaintiffs propose would lead to absurd consequences, because some public schools would be funded by the MFP but other public schools would not.”

While this ruling is a huge victory for parents across the state, it may not even be on your radar.  Perhaps you don’t have children in a public charter school, and you don’t really think this type of ruling applies to you. I would argue everyone in Louisiana benefits from a ruling like this, not just the 16,000 students that had their funding threatened by this suit.

First, fair is fair. When parents and children choose to attend a school of choice that is a decision that should be supported by the state. Those parents pay taxes just like everyone else.  There is no need to penalize them because they desperately seek a better future for their children.

Second, empowering parents is contagious. This ruling sends a signal to parents across Louisiana that the laws of this land and the members of the Supreme Court want them to be involved parents and will support them in their efforts. As other families see the liberating power of choice and mobility in many Louisiana communities, a new era of empowerment will hopefully take place.

Third, parents remaining in traditional public schools will benefit also. Every parent deserves to know they also have the power to choose a good schooling option for their child and every school will be incentivized to sharpen their approach to delivering a quality educational product if they know it too. Competition is good for traditional markets and it can help elevate educational quality.

Fourth, public services are not the same as public buildings. As technology changes, so does our traditional view of certain public services. Public utilities are not always government-owned entities, in many cases, they are private entities regulated by public bodies. The same goes for public transportation and public housing, where infrastructure and facilities themselves are many times privately owned but publicly regulated as they deliver a public service. Education is slowly learning to live within the same modern consumer expectations as many other public services, and this technological evolution will provide benefits to families for years to come.

Louisiana has many strong laws in place to help provide accountable educational choice for parents.  I hope our legislators in the coming weeks will stand strong and uphold our laws governing accountability. Many of these laws are nationally recognized as high-quality reforms that, if supported, will lead to improved outcomes for years to come.  In this sense, we are a highly regarded national leader in this space. That’s more like it. It sure is nice to get some much-needed good reviews on something we do… hopefully, it is a trend of more to come.

By: Brigitte Nieland

On October 18th, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation co-sponsored an event in Baton Rouge to release the Foundation’s new report, “Workforce of Today, Workforce of Tomorrow: The Business Case for High-Quality Childcare.” At the event, early learning experts, business representatives, education officials and legislators all stressed the critical need for quality early learning opportunities and access to safe, affordable childcare.

Today, a majority of children live in homes where both parents work. Access to affordable, high-quality childcare is all too often an elusive necessity. Lack of reliable childcare leads to absenteeism, job turnover, and loss of productivity at work. Businesses that support childcare are more able to attract and retain workers. A survey by the Early Care & Learning Council found that when companies provide childcare, employee absences decrease by up to 30 percent and job turnover declines by as much as 60 percent. A recent survey in Louisiana found that one in six respondents left a job due to childcare issues, and one in 13 were terminated from a job due to recurring childcare issues.

High-quality childcare is not a luxury; it is a workforce necessity. Women still carry the primary responsibility for childcare, but now also make up half of the American workforce; mothers are 40 percent of primary breadwinners. Still, in the Louisiana survey, women were six to seven times more likely to leave a job due to childcare issues, five times as likely to leave full-time work for part-time, and six times as likely to turn down a promotion due to concerns over childcare.

A high-quality learning environment for children is equally critical, providing the foundation for a strong future workforce. It lays the groundwork for academic, economic and social success. Additionally, the return on public investment in early learning is high, up to $16 for every $1 spent. Examples of futures tax savings are: reduced crime and incarceration rates; increased tax revenues due to higher rates of employment and higher wages later in life; better-performing public schools; improved public health; reduced rates of special needs students; less dependence on social programs; and more educated, skilled workers.

Research has shown that in the first three years of life, the human brain forms more than 1 million new neural connections every second. Without proper attention during this critical development period, children begin school unprepared to learn and are already behind at the early age of five.

Louisiana has already begun the work of improving access and quality of childcare. Act 3 of 2012 established a foundation of fundamental quality standards in early childhood education. It unified preschool, Head Start and childcare programs into Innovative Community Networks, which operate under a unified system of academic and development standards, parental choice, teacher preparation standards and accountability. They are led by local Lead Agencies that are responsible for coordinating the choices and evaluations based on teaching and learning.

Although Louisiana’s networks now encompass 1,600 childcare, Head Start, and school sites serving 100,000 children, issues of access and quality remain major challenges. Only half of Louisiana’s children enter kindergarten ready to learn. Louisiana only serves 30 percent of low-income children, and low-rated childcare sites need assistance to improve. Much remains to be done, and Louisiana businesses have a vested interest in exploring all viable options to ensure that every student enters school ready to learn.

Childcare affects Louisiana workers, and therefore the economy. It is time that the issue is elevated to other important workforce issues that impact the availability of a trained, ready workforce and economic development, such as critical thinking, literacy, training and soft skills education.

By: Brigitte Nieland

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) will hold a special meeting to consider the submission of a state plan to improve public education. The plan is required under the federal “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA). State Schools Superintendent John White will ask BESE to submit the plan on April 15th so implementation can begin in the next school year.

The proposed ESSA plan calls for increased transparency in school letter grades, with an immediate end to the generous “curve” built into current school letter grades. It will include a mechanism to reward student growth, while still showing where students are performing. It encompasses intense focus on historically underserved groups such as special needs and economically disadvantaged children. It begins the transition to a new proficiency standard (Mastery instead of Basic) that most other states use. A portion of the new school grading scale is for non-tested factors, such as chronic absenteeism, or access to arts or foreign languages.

The plan calls upon schools to have a path for every student to reach the Mastery proficiency level by 2025, while incorporating flexibility for differences in communities. It is the result of a bipartisan effort that has been working on a student-centered plan since the ESSA law passed in December 2015. The state has engaged in 125 meetings around the state in the past year, receiving stakeholder input from all interested parties.

The proposed ESSA plan unites a very diverse group of stakeholders in advocating both for the plan and for an April submission. The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), Louisiana Federation for Children, Urban League of Louisiana, Stand for Children, Democrats for Education Reform, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Equity in All Places, Deaf Focus, and Louisiana Parent Training and Information Center released a joint statement calling for submission of the plan at the earliest date possible. Business, civil rights groups, parent and educator organizations, and groups that work for children with special needs all believe that the right to a quality, equitable education is urgent.

The plan should move forward but, for some reason, the school board association, teacher unions, superintendents’ association, and the administration want to delay it from being submitted in April. This is just the latest example in a long history of delay after delay holding back progress. These groups are seeking to submit the plan in September 2017, after the start of the next school year. Having the new standards in place when the school year begins is clearly a more practical approach. We must no longer tolerate generation after generation of kids not getting the education they deserve because adults resist the changes that everyone knows we need. We are better than this. Parents and kids deserve better than this.

A Chicago Tribune editorial from 2002 stated, “another year suits an administrator’s timeline, not a child’s.” This is as true today as it was then. BESE should continue to act in the best interest of students and families, submit the plan (which can be tweaked along the way if necessary) in April, and not allow any delays to postpone educational opportunity for every child.

By: Stephen Waguespack

Charles M. Schulz, the creator and lead illustrator for the Peanuts cartoon for fifty years, passed away in 2000 at the age of 77. He was an American icon in his industry, serving as a respected mentor and inspiration for countless cartoonists and illustrators to follow. His wholesome and charming Peanuts stories were quite popular and retained a large audience, with Peanuts at one point running in over 2,600 papers and 21 languages across the world.

Just before his death seventeen years ago, he gave an interview about his life and career. In this televised conversation, the impressiveness of his talents and the quality of his character and moral fabric showed clearly through. He was a kind man who experienced great success and took his role in entertaining and guiding the youth of America very seriously for several decades.

In this last interview, he was asked if he regretted not allowing Charlie Brown to finally kick that football being held by Lucy in the final Peanuts comic strip. Choking back tears, he emphatically stated that he did regret it, saying, “You know, that poor, poor kid, he never even got to kick the football. What a dirty trick — he never had a chance to kick the football.”

While this game between Lucy and Charlie Brown has been going on for decades, the symbolism remains the same. Charlie Brown is looking for his chance to play and a chance to find pride in his hard work. Pulling the football away wasn’t fair for Charlie Brown in that comic strip and it’s likewise not fair to take opportunities away from other children in the real world.

The Louisiana real world version of this scenario is playing out in the court system as we speak. A group of adults are desperately trying to use the legal process to rip away a great opportunity from a large number of Louisiana children.

Roughly 78,000 children are enrolled as students in Louisiana’s 145 charter schools. Louisiana’s largest teacher union is currently in court trying to convince a judge to cut off funding for 16,000 of these children enrolled in 32 of those charter schools around the state. The basis for this suit has nothing to do with what is best for charter school students, their teachers and their parents – it is simply about union leader efforts to get access to more public dollars and lessen parental control of a child’s education.

These union leaders want education dollars to belong to certain buildings and the bureaucracy that has controlled them for years. Charter school teachers and advocates want the parents of all children to have the opportunity to decide the best educational option for their child. As more and more low-income parents choose charter education in this state, the union leaders are now trying to use the court system to cut off funding to these schools instead of rising to the challenge of this new competition and focusing on improving their services.

Each year the state spends billions of dollars in taxpayer money to help educate children. Last year the state’s k-12 education funding formula, known as the MFP, totaled over $3.6 billion. While the amount of funds spent each year in Louisiana is comparable to other southern states, the academic results for our children have been sub-par for decades. Additionally, the ability of these dollars to flow directly to classroom instruction has been diluted over the years due to increasing guaranteed pension cost obligations. It is those increasing pension costs that are eating up local school budgets and which likely serve as the largest motivation for the union lawsuits to cut off charter funding.

Louisiana should follow the lead of other states who have made moves toward reforming these outdated pension systems, in order to make them more affordable and sustainable for families. Instead of this logical approach, we find that union leaders have chosen to go after the dollars being used by many low-income parents and students trying to pursue a better education. Once union leaders accomplish this task, they will most certainly advocate that these dollars be used to subsidize these outdated programs, leaving children in the lurch. 

Late last week, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals thankfully issued a stay in this case – preventing the parents who have chosen one of these 32 charter schools for their children from having the football immediately ripped from their grasp. The Louisiana Supreme Court will be asked to make the final determination and that ruling will have enormous ramifications on the choice-driven educational system in Louisiana that is beginning to benefit countless families across this great state.

The questions are clear: Who will control the football? Will it be the parents who want and deserve the ability to choose the best public educational option for their child? Will it be the union leaders who need control of public education dollars to backfill their unreformed programs and chase away charter options in this state?

Unfortunately, instead of a collaborative process between all stakeholders to decide this policy, the union leaders have decided to go to court. 

Thus, the football is now in the hands of the judicial system. 16,000 kids are running full steam towards it, ready to kick off another year of public education in a school of their choosing. Once the final gavel comes down, will the ball still be there for these kids or will they all run towards the goal excitedly only to slip and end up flat on their backs?

Hopefully, the union leaders will see the error of their ways and remove this harmful lawsuit before it is too late. If that doesn’t happen, the job will fall to the judicial system to help Louisiana avoid the same feeling of regret, which so visibly distressed Mr. Schulz.

On behalf of the parents trying to give their kids the best education possible, I submit a respectful plea to these union leaders and the court system to avoid playing the role of Lucy. Give those kids a chance. Let them kick the football of their choosing.