Louisiana Democrat Stands Up For School Choice

While most Democrats slam the Republican agenda geared towards school choice, one liberal was not afraid to face criticism by joining conservatives in the fight for children to have a chance at a better education.

On Monday, the Louisiana state House passed House Bill 745 with a vote of 72-32, with seven Democrats voting yes. Among those Democrats was state Rep. Jason Hughes (D) of New Orleans, who gave a heartfelt speech on the House floor explaining why he was all for school choice.

“As I watch children in poverty, trapped in failing schools, who can hardly read, I’d be damned if I will continue to defend the status quo,” Hughes said in his speech, which has since gone viral on social media. “Too many of our children are dropping out, and then we wonder why we have to have a crime session.”

In his speech, Hughes said that 67% of third graders attending public schools cannot read, which should have also disgusted his liberal colleagues.

“I know the political ramifications for me for voting for this bill,” Hughes added. “But I don’t need this $16,800 a year job bad enough to watch our children continue to live in poverty, and trapped in failing schools, and not try to do something.”

Hughes stayed honest with his values, unlike many politicians, refusing to compromise his core values of allowing all children to have the opportunity to thrive in the right educational environment and putting them first.

In a vote of 13-9 last week, the Louisiana Appropriations Committee passed the bill, with Hughes being the only Democrat to vote alongside Republicans. While he was the lone supporter among his colleagues, Hughes defended his stance, not giving in to pressure.

Known as the Giving All True Opportunity to Rise Scholarship Program, HB 745 was written by state Rep. Julie Emerson (R). It would be applied to low-income families and then expand to others.

According to Emerson, the bill would give parents the power to choose which type of education would best benefit their children.

If the Louisiana state Senate passes the bill, it will be sent to Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry (R), who has supported school choice. Louisiana will be the 11th state to pass a universal school choice bill, which is becoming popular in conservative states. Arizona was the first state to constitute school choice in 2022.

School choice options include charter schools, homeschooling and magnet schools.