‘Trapped In Failing Schools’: Dem Rep. Jason Hughes Stands Up To Party, Votes For School Choice

[Screenshot/Louisiana House of Representatives]

Hailey Gomez General Assignment Reporter
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Democratic Louisiana Rep. Jason Hughes announced his vote for school choice during a Committee on Appropriations, handing a loss to his party which typically votes against the issue.

Hughes spoke during a meeting Tuesday to discuss the state’s bill HB745 which could potentially create education savings accounts (ESA). The ESA model was adopted by several states, which allows parents school choice by giving them access to public funds to cover a range of education expenses that include private school tuition, instruction materials, and homeschooling charges. (RELATED: Sarah Huckabee Sanders Announces Major Expansion Of School Choice Options For Children Of Veterans, First Responders)

During the meeting, Hughes could be seen questioning Louisiana School Board Association executive council member Danny Garrett about his opposition against the bill who noted the benefits of public school from his personal experience and others he had known been in contact with. Garrett stated that while there were “valid reasons” why parents send their children to either school from an “appropriations standpoints” he believes that representatives shouldn’t “close their eyes to “the impact.”

“I’m certainly not closing my eyes to that. But respectfully, I can’t close my eyes to the 67% of 3rd graders in public schools who cannot read. I cannot close my eyes to the number of kids living in poverty in our state who are trapped in failing schools. Okay?” Hughes responded.

“So what do those families do? When a child is trapped in a failing school, a parent is working a minimum wage job, they can’t afford to do anything but leave their child in that failing school–what do we do? Do we just say I’m sorry and leave that child in a failing school? What is the alternative for that child?”

Following the meeting, the bill was passed by the Louisiana Appropriations Committee with a 13-9 vote and Hughes as the only Democrat voting for the ESA model. If approved by the House, Louisiana could be next state in line to join the ESA model, following Alabama which became the first state in 2024 to approve the program.