Louisiana Sees Massive Increases in Funding for Education and Literacy
Louisiana schools will see big increases in funding for literacy, early learning programs and public universities, as its legislature directed money from excess federal COVID-19 relief programs toward education.
“We know we have too many kids who are not reading at the grade level in second grade … and we’re not doing a very good job of catching them,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday at a conference. release after the 2022 Legislative Session.
The literacy issue in Louisiana was clearly a point of attention for lawmakers this session. Sen. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, blamed massive cuts to the education budget over the years.
Louisiana’s K-12 education budget has been cut by 40% to 60% over the past 10 years, Jackson said, and lawmakers who voted for those cuts are now freaking out over poor government results. state of early education.
Education investments in this year’s budget include $17 million for early childhood programs, $27 million for early childhood support services and $159 million for higher education.
Edwards said Louisiana’s higher education budget increase was the largest in state history. Included are $31 million for faculty salaries, $15 million for need-based aid, and significant increases in capital expenditure funding for deferred maintenance of campus construction projects.
“It was a strong public education session,” Barry Erwin, president of the Council for a Better Louisiana, said in a statement Monday. “To a large extent, lawmakers have invested this year wisely in our schools and our students.”
The legislature also passed several bills that increased funding for early childhood education and literacy.
House Bill 911, authored by Rep. Jason Hughes, D-New Orleans, creates additional early literacy assessments for students in kindergarten through third grade. This “requires individual improvement in readingent plan for each of these students” who read below grade level.
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Senate Bill 47, authored by Sen. Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge, expanded opportunities for all 4-year-olds to receive high-quality, all-day, year-round pre-kindergarten programs.
While the dramatic increase in education spending is applauded in most circles, one wonders if the state can meet these needs on a recurring basis.
According to the Hughes invoice tax note.
The legislature also voted some bills that take funds away from public schools to pay for private or home schooling.
Edwards said he was not in favor of such bills but would meet with one of the bill’s sponsors before deciding whether or not to veto the legislation.