It is a national disgrace that in a time when we should be encouraging and providing for our most vulnerable, we have mean-spirited legislators attempting to decrease educational opportunities for our children. The Department of Education's policy on Charter schools reads in part "Charter schools may not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, creed, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, age, ancestry, athletic performance, special need, proficiency in the English language or in a foreign language, or academic achievement in admitting students, nor may charter schools set admissions criteria that are intended to discriminate or that have the effect of discrimination on any of these bases." In an attempt to limit public educational choices for parents and children, Senator A.G. Crowe has introduced Senate Bill 217 which will permit Charter Schools to exclude citizens from a public education because of their sexual orientation or their ability to speak English, among other policy decisions of the Department.
When administering a public good, like public education, citizens must always be provided opportunity in return for the tax dollars we entrust to our elected officials to spend appropriately. Senator Crowe's bill breaks that sacred bond between the tax payer and the government by not using our tax dollars to make this public good available to every citizen.
In addition, the Senator attempts to use a thinly veiled and misguided federalism argument stating that the current policy adopted by the Department of Education is a legislative function. The Senator's flimsy assertion only substantively amounts to him wagging his finger at the Executive Branch. In fact Senator Crowe admonishes the Executive Branch telling them that only the Legislative Branch can protect the public from discriminatory actions brought on by the government or those working for the government. This is a notion that any fair-minded critical thinker must reject outright otherwise the checks and balances portion of federalism would be rendered useless.
This bill has functionally developed a class of individuals that the Senator believes it's appropriate to discriminate against. How long will it take this slippery slope the Senator is attempting to put us on to turn the ability to speak English into national ancestry (a currently protected class) or sexual orientation into sex (another currently protected class)? If we allow this legislation to pass it would set a precedent that would allow government to discriminate when administering any public good.
The Urban League of Greater New Orleans calls on every sober minded individual to contact your state elected officials and demand that they vote against this legislation. We also call on the Governor to exercise leadership on this issue and show the Nation that he intends for our State to be competitive globally by not discriminating against but investing in our only hope, OUR CHILDREN.