BATON ROUGE — Following his testimony before the Louisiana House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White today issued a statement regarding the proposed budget for education.
White said: “The budget as proposed makes important investments in schools and children, most notably a long-overdue pay increase for teachers and other staff in our schools. I thank the Governor, the Legislature, and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for their support of this important step forward.
However, the budget as proposed disproportionately cuts the Department of Education’s operating budget by $2.3 million and 41 positions that are critical to implementing a number of legally required activities and to providing direct support of schools and educators across the state. It also reduces the Special School District’s budget by nearly $914,000 and three positions, impacting their ability to serve incarcerated and medically fragile students in state facilities. Moreover, the proposed budget does not include any increase for early childhood education. The state has proposed no raise for early childhood teachers, and the budget leaves thousands of working parents on a waitlist with no child care. This is a glaring omission that must be rectified.
Since the passage of Act 3 in 2012, Louisiana’s child cares, Head Starts, and pre-kindergartens have successfully implemented policies to create a unified early care and education system that supports children and families. Those policy changes have boosted our state to No.8 in the nation for its early childhood education system, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center, and have improved the overall quality of our state’s early learning centers.
But as the quality of our early learning centers has climbed, the number of working families able to access them has dwindled. This need is particularly strong among the families of infants, toddlers, and three-year olds, for whom minimal services are available.
I urge the Legislature to clear the waitlist and to invest in the “LA B to 3” plan unanimously put forth by the Louisiana Early Childhood Care and Education Commission. Our youngest learners, our working families, and our state depend on it.”