The Man in the Mirror

Shannahan 2

By Kevin Shannahan

In the past month or so, two things happened in our state that perfectly outline the challenges we face in making Louisiana a better place in which to raise our families. It’s not necessarily the events, but the public’s reaction to them that show us that the biggest challenge we face often looks back at us in the mirror.

The first event was the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) recently voting to continue its division of championships between select and non-select schools and to expand it to additional sports beyond football. Judging by the swift and vociferous reaction, one would think something of actual import to the state’s long suffering educational system had taken place. Let me sum up my reaction – I don’t care. Words cannot describe my lack of concern over this. Well maybe some words could, but the bounds of propriety preclude their use.

The second event occurred the previous month when The Louisiana Department of Education released its annual, predictably abysmal, report cards for Louisiana’s public schools. Compared to the oceans of ink and impassioned commentary the LHSAA’s decision generated, the school and district report cards caused barely a ripple. We have become so used to bad news in this area that the reports bring more resignation than outrage.

Let’s draw a comparison. The Louisiana Department of Education spends billions of our tax dollars each year and is charged with educating our children. It’s a basic responsibility of our government and a key measure of our state’s livability and economic future. By contrast, the LHSAA is in charge of high school sports. It is a telling sign of where all too many of our fellow citizens’ priorities are that a decision that has absolutely no effect on the quality of education in our state draws significantly more interest than the fact that all too many of Louisiana’s public schools are bastions of mediocrity at best and continue to make little to no improvement. We are, to put it mildly, worried about the wrong things.