May marks both Teacher Appreciation Day (May 7) and National Charter Schools Week (May 5 – May 11). The public school choice movement has gained steam in our state over the last few years and created a wide-ranging system of public school options for our families. Parents and students can choose from traditional brick-and-mortar schools; virtual K-12 charter schools; charters with a focus on language-immersion, and even a military academy.

Why school choice?

  • Louisiana’s students deserve to attend only the best, highest performing schools in the nation and change was the only way to get there.
  • Our children can only compete in the 21st century if they are able to read, write, and compete in math and science. That hasn’t been the case in the past, but now our schools and students are stepping up.
  • Every child is different and deserves to have an option that works for him or her.

We are proud to say that through school choice, Louisiana students have improved their grades and test scores, and become better prepared for the rigors of college or a successful professional life.

Even though charter schools only comprise six percent of Louisiana schools, they comprise 24 percent of the state’s “Top Gains Schools” and 15 percent of Louisiana’s top performing schools.

Prior to Katrina, 83 percent of schools in New Orleans would have been designated as ‘failing’ by the current state standard of a School Performance Score (SPS) of 75. In four years, the RSD has reduced the number of schools below SPS = 75 by 68 percent. At this rate, the RSD will eliminate failing schools altogether in Orleans Parish in the next five years.

Our goal is to replicate this academic success everywhere in Louisiana. Better prepared students will have a long-lasting impact on what they can offer to our state as they grow into adults.

Creating school choice for parents by offering viable, sustainable and independent charter schools was the most direct intervention by which we could improve Louisiana’s public education system. The greater flexibility afforded charters increase the power of parents and community stakeholders to create quality public schools for children.

Our public school system is marked by greater innovation and increased responsiveness to student needs because of academic competition. While not every school district has embraced this approach in the same way, many of the districts with the most academic improvement have.

Great teachers, strong school culture, effective board and school organizations, a relentless focus on execution, lots of hard work, quick response to failure and a constant search for the best practices utilized by high performing schools is fueling our successes. There is still plenty of room for progress, but Louisiana schools are united in the goal of building a better future for students and we’re well on our way to achieving our dreams.

Ms. Roemer Shirley is the founder and director of this statewide non-profit. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

About Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools

The Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools (LAPCS) is a 501c3 non profit organization whose mission is to increase student achievement by supporting, promoting, and advocating for the quality charter school movement.