Charter schools and the governor's race candidates

Charter schools and the governor's race candidates

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Charter schools dominate the public school landscape in the city, and statewide they are part of a growing debate.

FOX 8 News spoke to both gubernatorial candidates about where they stand on charter schools.

"It's easy for anybody to throw out rhetoric and vague answers, but look at the record and if you will look at the record, I am a strong supporter of charter schools. I am a strong supporter of voucher scholarships for low income kids who would otherwise be trapped in failing schools, I'm a strong supporter really of all versions of choice in education because it empowers parents, and teachers, and school based leaders," said David Vitter, a Republican who is currently the state's senior U.S. senator.

State Rep. John Bel Edwards favors local control of public schools, but said he is not averse to charter schools when school districts are under-performing.

"I will support charter schools when they're successful.  I do believe however, that school districts that are performing well under our accountability ought to have the ability to determine for themselves whether a new charter school opens, or not," said Edwards.

The Louisiana Department of Education said statewide there are 1457 public schools, and 139 of them are charter schools.

"There are some issues around charter schools.  I am not quite comfortable with the for-profit charter model because I think it leads to decisions that are not in the best interest of the children," Edwards said.

FOX 8 political analyst Mike Sherman weighed in on the charter school debate and the candidates.

"The issue of charter schools for those in New Orleans finds both candidates in probably the same place. They're fine with the not for profit model that's in New Orleans, no one is proposing to change that right now," said Sherman.

Locally, supporters of charter schools have said Hurricane Katrina allowed for a do-over in terms of public school education, while critics claim many charter schools shut out problematic, or low performing students.

Meanwhile, Vitter said in terms of support for such schools he has earned an "A."

"John Bel Edwards has the opposite record.  He has proposed bill after bill after bill to shut down different charter opportunities.

"For those districts that are not performing well under our accountability system, I think it's appropriate that  folks in Baton Rouge on the BESE board would have the opportunity to review denial of a charter application and perhaps reverse that denial if in fact they believe it's in the best interest of children."

On Nov. 21, voters across Louisiana will decide which candidate gets promoted to the governor's mansion.

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