Families are the foundation of our communities. Investing in Louisiana’s success as a state requires investing in the success of Louisiana families because our state’s economic outlook is directly linked to our families’ economic outcomes.
In Louisiana, one in four school-aged children lives in poverty. That’s unacceptable, and it must change.
Governor Edwards and his administration have outlined possible options to address the ways our state can empower working families. The administration will also assess current state policies and is working on recommendations for how we can act more directly to benefit Louisiana families.
Gov. Edwards aims to engage Louisiana leaders at every level; create long term, strategic, and sustainable plans; and maximize the use of federal funds towards this goal of strengthening our families.
One of the greatest gifts that we can give to our children is a quality education, no matter what neighborhood they live in or what socioeconomic background they come from. The Edwards Administration believes in prioritizing teachers and students by restoring more local control over how our children are educated and tax dollars are spent in schools.
The overuse of standardized testing robs teachers of the joy of teaching and students of the joy of learning. Excessive standardized testing is expensive, time consuming, and often does not provide an accurate measurement of student achievement.
Voucher programs are intended to provide a choice to parents whose children are trapped in failing schools. By definition, C schools are not failing. By redesigning voucher eligibility so that it’s available only to students in D or F schools, we can better focus voucher resources on children truly in need, without eroding resources from traditional public schools.
More local control should be given to school boards that perform well under our accountability system. School districts with A or B grades should have the final say in whether a new charter school will open in the district. Parents and taxpayers should be able to hold their school board members accountable for these decisions, and Baton Rouge bureaucrats should not have primary responsibility over such decisions in these districts.
Louisiana is one of only five states that has not adopted a state minimum wage. Our current minimum wage – $7.25 per hour – is simply not enough.
Forty percent of all our working families do not earn enough to cover basic monthly expenses. These are people who already have jobs and still live paycheck to paycheck, barely making ends meet.
More than 44 percent of households in the state’s three largest cities – New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport –are unable to afford the five basic necessities of housing, child care, food, transportation, and health care. In every parish, these households make up between 12 and 32 percent of the total population.
Women make up nearly 80 percent of the minimum wage earners in LA, and that contributes to the pay gap and to poverty in LA. Further, many workers making minimum wage are adults who work full time and often have children.
We should make a modest, but meaningful, increase to the minimum wage – up to $8.50 over two years.
Single-mother households account for the majority of Louisiana families living in poverty and over half of our low income families. This comes as no surprise since Louisiana has the highest gender wage gap in the country, with the average Louisiana woman making only $0.65 for every $1 a man makes to do the same job.
We know that when women do well, children prosper too. This is the very definition of family values. Yet, our state has ignored the gender wage gap, and it has grown even larger. That is why this administration is committed to pushing for and supporting legislation that would close the wage gap.
Equal pay for women and meaningful action to increase opportunities for women are priorities for Gov. Edwards. It’s time for Louisiana to actually value families – not just talk about family values.