(Editor’s Note: The following letter by Greg Davis, regional vice president for the Council for a Better Louisiana, urges lawmakers to vote in favor of House Bill 851, one of four school board reform bills filed for the spring legislative session and the only one still alive. HB 851 will be debated on the House floor Tuesday.)

On the issue of school board reform, chambers of commerce and economic development groups from across the state have lined up to back legislation at the Capitol this session. This includes our own Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce.

Why is the business community standing together on a non-business issue? Because they know the value of public education and its impact on the workforce. They want our public schools to succeed. They want all of our children to graduate and to perform at grade level. They understand how this affects our local economies.

I was discouraged to read in the coverage of the committee hearing that many school board members oppose this much-needed change in how their boards operate. This bill will help to make them more efficient, more transparent, and able to focus on school and student performance.

Some argued the bill unfairly targets school boards, blaming them for Louisiana’s lagging education statistics. Instead of focusing on blame, I hope school boards will join this effort. Not all boards need these changes, some operate very well – they hire the superintendent and leave them to make decisions, run the district, and be accountable if the outcomes don’t meet goals.

Not all school boards operate this well, and because the current structure allows the opportunity for any board to micromanage, it must be changed. If everyone is in charge, no one is in charge. Can you imagine being a superintendent, judged on how your district performs when you aren’t in sole control of running it? Do we want the athletic booster club choosing the football players and then firing the coach when the team doesn’t win?

The legislature needs to pass this bill so our superintendents can be in a better position to help our children learn and be clearly accountable for results.

—Greg Davis, Regional Vice President, Council for a Better Louisiana

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