Louisiana Education Officials Expand School Voucher Program Statewide
School Choice Success in Louisiana
Education Reform: Scholarship Program
Parental Choice Has Arrived...
In the News
La. high court to hear voucher case
By Joe Gyan, The Advocate
February 11, 2013 - Louisiana’s top court next month will hear the state’s appeal of a Baton Rouge judge’s ruling that Louisiana’s expanded voucher program, along with another key legislatively approved piece of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s public school overhaul plan, unconstitutionally divert public funds to private and parochial schools. (Read More)
Positions harden on vouchers
By Will Sentell, The Advocate
August 6, 2012 - Louisiana is launching one of the biggest voucher programs in the nation amid conflicting arguments on how those students fare in the classroom.
Advocates say evidence clearly shows that students who qualify for the aid show gains in reading, math and other subjects. (Read More)
Louisiana school voucher program gives parents new option
By Leigh Guidry, The Town Talk
August 5, 2012 - Jana Jones felt her son was bored in public school and was concerned by how little homework he received in fourth grade.
The new Louisiana Scholarship Program gave her an option. The state's controversial voucher program allows students zoned for public schools that receive a C, D or F rating from the state to apply for a state voucher to attend a private school. (Read More)
Louisiana Teachers' Union threatens private schools in state school choice program
By Michael Tennant, The New American
August 3, 2012 - “Thuggery.” That’s the word most commonly being employed to describe the Louisiana teachers’ union’s latest attempt to prevent pupils from escaping their poorly performing public schools. After failing to get a judge to block the state’s school voucher program, the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) is now threatening private schools participating in the program with lawsuits if they do not withdraw from it immediately. (Read More)
'Whatever Means Necessary'
Unions stand in the schoolhouse door against minorities in Louisiana
Editorial, The Wall Street Journal
July 29, 2012 - Last week, lawyers for the Louisiana Association of Educators, one of the state's two major teachers unions, threatened private and parochial schools with lawsuits if the schools accept students participating in a new school choice initiative that starts this year. Education reforms signed into law in April by Governor Bobby Jindal include a publicly funded voucher program that allows low-income families to send their children to private or parochial schools. (Read More)
By Eric Lewis, The News Star
June 19, 2012 - During the past two weeks, the Louisiana Black Alliance for Educational Options has traveled the state sharing information on the newly expanded Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence program.
With expos held in Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, New Orleans, Shreveport, Ruston and Monroe we have had the opportunity to meet a wide range of parents facing a vast array of challenges regarding their children's education. We assisted parents in completing scholarship applications and answered many questions and concerns they had. (Read More)
By Mark Waller, The Times-Picayune
June 14, 2012 - Parents stopped one-by-one at a group of tables in the middle of Oakwood Center shopping mall in Terrytown Thursday, approaching Louisiana education officials about a newly available option, vouchers that let them move their children to different schools. The program has critics, but the visitors at Thursday's installment of an informational tour focused on using it to find new settings for their children.
Constance Barton's daughter attended Kate Middleton Elementary in Gretna for 2011-12, but the school closed in a wave of cuts and reorganization in May, leaving her searching for a new destination for her second grader. The Jefferson Parish school system will place her child at William Hart Elementary in Gretna, but Barton said she wants to shop around. (Read More)
June 7, 2012 - In an anticipated move, the Louisiana Federation of Teachers today filed lawsuits against the state’s recently passed education reform laws, prompting a swift response from a group of statewide reform organizations and concerned parents who fought the legislative battle to pass the reforms that will benefit thousands of families.
The lawsuits take aim at Acts 1 and 2 of the 2012 legislative session. The goals of the threatened reforms, many of which are in the beginning stages of implementation, include expanding school choice to children in low-performing schools, reforming teacher tenure standards, empowering educators, and removing barriers to entry for charter schools, among others.
A broad cross-section of statewide reform organizations decried the lawsuits and the adverse effect it stands to have on Louisiana families and students. Among the groups standing together against the lawsuits and in support of the reforms are the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, Black Alliance for Educational Options, Council for A Better Louisiana, Louisiana Federation for Children, Louisiana Association of Business & Industry, Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, Pelican Institute for Public Policy, and Stand for Children Louisiana. (Read More)
By Kevin P. Chavous, The Hayride
June 1, 2012 - In a June 1, 2012 Reuters article, “Louisiana’s bold bid to privatize education,” author Stephanie Simon unfairly critiques the state’s newly expanded voucher program, thereby missing the mark as to what the program truly does—educate the most disadvantaged children all across Louisiana.
While taking aim at the participating “Bible-based church schools,” Simon fails to note that nearly 72 percent of public schools in the state are rated as low-performing while 230,000 public school students are performing below grade level. To justify a limited palette of options for these children based on unfounded assertions is downright wrong, and quite frankly, constitutes a sad form of contemporary bigotry. (Read More)
By Matthew Albright, Houma Today
May 31, 2012 - Parents of children at low-performing public schools can now apply for vouchers that will allow a limited number of students to transfer to private schools that rank better academically.
Applications for the newly approved vouchers, which give public money to parents to pay private-school tuition, opened May 22 and will last until June 25. There is no preference for early applications. (Read More)
By Rolfe McCollister, Greater Baton Rouge Business Report
May 28, 2012 - The growing list of supporters, elected officials and new organizations that have joined the choice and reform movement is invigorating and made a huge difference in its success this session. Kudos to them all.
But I want to recognize one group that has been fighting the fight—and putting their money where their mouth is—for almost 10 years now. The reform movement was often fought with ideas, but our opponents (the unions) had all the money at election time and they would use it to support the status quo. That changed in 2003 in Louisiana with the involvement of Dick DeVos, who headed the American Federation for Children (now chaired by his wife, Betsy DeVos). This national group was active in advancing school choice and education reform for children and parents, and they were going to support candidates who did likewise. Suddenly reform candidates had an ally that had funds. The playing field was starting to level. AFC has been involved in legislative races, BESE races and statewide races—and has made a difference. Many families and children have more choices because of their commitment and help year after year. AFC and its supporters deserve our gratitude. (Read More)
May 23, 2012 - Hundreds of thousands of newly-eligible children encouraged to submit applications prior to June 29 deadline
Parents can now apply to participate in Louisiana’s recently expanded voucher program, which extends eligibility to nearly 380,000 children statewide to receive state-funded scholarships to attend a participating private or public school of their parents’ choice.
Enacted in 2008 for families in Orleans Parish, the Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence (SSEE) program was expanded last month to students across the state. With the passage of House Bill 976, K-12 students statewide who currently attend a public school labeled “C,” “D”, or “F,” are eligible to participate in the program, which currently serves over 1,800 students exclusively in New Orleans. Students entering kindergarten for the 2012-2013 school year also are eligible. (Read More)
Governor Jindal Signs Scholarship Tax Rebate Program into Law
May 9, 2012 - Just weeks after signing a historic statewide expansion of school vouchers, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on Monday signed into law the creation of a statewide scholarship tax rebate program, bringing yet another educational victory to low- and middle-income families across Louisiana.
The American Federation for Children—the nation’s voice for school choice—praised the governor and a bipartisan coalition of state legislators for their support of House Bill 969, which allows individuals and businesses to receive a rebate for money donated to organizations that grant private school scholarships to eligible students. (Read More)
Governor Jindal's Education Reform Efforts: Why They Matter
Randan Marie Swindler, The Blaze
April 27, 2012 - The recent statewide school voucher expansion in Louisiana follows a string of victories around the country for low-income families and those committed to school choice for parents. The newly-expanded program will make nearly 400,000 Louisiana students eligible to attend the school of their parents’ choice, a resoundingly large number that should serve as a model for the size and scope of the education reform efforts nationwide.
But governors elsewhere looking to empower parents through school choice should be aware of two things: the long, hard road it took to achieve the legislative victory, and the integral role that Louisiana’s chief executive played in making it a reality—even before he’d ever won a single election. (Read More)
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal Approves Sweeping Statewide Expansion of School Vouchers
April 18, 2012 - Expanded school choice program, which could help thousands of families across the state, builds momentum for educational options nationwide
Following historic bipartisan votes in the Louisiana legislature, Governor Bobby Jindal today signed into law one of the most sweeping school choice expansions in the nation, representing an enormous victory for low- and middle-income families from across the state.
The American Federation for Children (AFC)—the nation’s voice for school choice—applauded the governor, a bipartisan coalition of state legislators, and local grassroots advocates for their support of House Bill 976, which makes school vouchers available throughout the entire state of Louisiana for the first time. This victory represents a major step forward in a multi-year legislative battle waged by AFC and allied organizations that will expand eligibility for the highly-successful New Orleans voucher program to as many as 380,000 Louisiana children statewide. (Read More)
Historic turning point for Louisiana
By Rolfe McCollister, Greater Baton Rouge Business Report
April 16, 2012 - Many in America may have been surprised upon reading about the passage of historic education reform in Louisiana. This dawn of a new day in public education happened as a result of the House and Senate passing Gov. Bobby Jindal's education reform package, covering school choice, scholarships, charters, tenure, and other governance issues. For a state that struggles to let go of its past, this was a monumental achievement—and a great day for children.
The rest of the country took note of Louisiana's actions. National business leaders read this in The Wall Street Journal: “Louisiana is poised to establish the nation's most expansive system of school choice by adopting a package of vouchers and other tools that would give many parents control over the use of tax dollars to educate their children.” Back home, a Times-Picayune editorial praised Jindal's reforms, saying, “Gov. Jindal is right to be bold. Despite those earlier reform efforts, Louisiana students still lag behind their counterparts in most other states. Implemented wisely, these reforms could make students more competitive—and improve their lives and the state's economic future.” (Read More)
Editorial: Well Done, Bobby
The Daily, April 8, 2012 - Our hats are off to Bobby Jindal. This week, the Louisiana governor plans to sign into law two prongs of his ambitious education-reform package. These include sensible and extremely necessary changes to teacher tenure laws as well as the implementation of a voucher program. This comes not a moment too soon.
According to Education Week, Louisiana currently ranks 48th in the nation in K-12 academic achievement.
Jindal’s new reforms are a serious attempt to change that. Starting in the 2013 school year, teachers will be held far more accountable for their performance. Those teachers who earn a rating of “ineffective,” for instance, would lose tenure and might even face firing. Only in the heavily unionized world of public education would such a straightforward policy not go without saying. (Read More)
Judge Rules Against Funding Mechanism for Statewide Voucher Program
Ruling reaffirms legality of publicly-funded scholarships, but halts current funding structure; Case will be appealed to State Supreme Court
BATON ROUGE, LA (November 30, 2012) - Kevin P. Chavous, senior advisor to the Federation, said that while today’s ruling is a setback in the effort to give all children access to a high-quality education, it is just the beginning.
“It is unfortunate that defenders of the status quo have opted to pursue this litigation which has but one goal: deny Louisiana children from low-income families access to a quality education, “Chavous said. “While children and families were not successful in the 19th Judicial District Court, we will appeal this decision to the Louisiana Supreme Court and continue the fight to make sure every child in Louisiana can get the quality education they deserve.” (Read More)
Nearly 5,000 Students Enrolled in Expanded Statewide Voucher Program
Newly-released numbers for 2012-2013 school year show substantial growth in scholarship program
BATON ROUGE, LA (September 14, 2012)—Fewer children are trapped in underperforming schools this fall, after nearly 5,000 students accepted scholarships to participate in Louisiana’s statewide voucher program, representing one of the largest single-year enrollment increases in the history of voucher programs nationwide.
The American Federation for Children—the nation’s voice for school choice—praised the enrollment figures, which were released Thursday by the state Department of Education, as a victory for Louisiana students and parents. In total, 4,944 students are participating in the program in the 2012-13 school year at 118 schools across the state. (Read More)
Louisiana Teachers Union Makes Racially Charged Claims about Black Education Reform Group
BATON ROUGE, LA (August 30, 2012)—One of the largest teachers’ unions in Louisiana said in a statement early today that the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO)—a national group committed to helping give low-income African American families access to high-quality educational choices—“endorses teaching that the KKK is good,” a baseless an unsubstantiated claim that represents a new low in their continued opposition to reforms that challenge the educational status quo.
The American Federation for Children—the nation’s voice for school choice, and a strong and unwavering BAEO ally—strongly condemned the remarks from the Louisiana Federation for Teachers (LFT), which appeared in a message posted on the official LFT Twitter page early this morning. The message was followed up with dozens of additional Twitter messages doubling down on the racist remarks, making demeaning statements about BAEO and other education reform groups and individuals, and making false claims about the nature of the statewide voucher program, its supporters, and how it affects children and families. (Read More)
School Voucher Recipients More Likely to Enroll in College, New Study Finds
WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 23, 2012)—A new study released today by researchers at the Brookings Institution and Harvard University shows that African American participants in a private school choice program were 24 percent more likely to enroll in college as a result of receiving a voucher, reinforcing previously-released data showing improved graduation rates, parental satisfaction, and academic achievement among voucher students.
The American Federation for Children—the nation’s voice for school choice—praised the findings, which tracked voucher students in New York City over a nearly 15-year period. The research also shows that African American enrollment rates in selective colleges more than doubled among voucher students, and the rate of enrollment in full-time colleges increased by a remarkable 31 percent. (Read More)
Louisiana Statewide Voucher Program Receives More Than 10,300 Applications in First Year of Expansion
Baton Rouge, LA (July 11, 2012) - The Louisiana Department of Education today announced that the state’s newly-expanded voucher program received more than 10,300 applications during the month-long application period for the statewide program, marking one of the largest single-year application increases ever for a voucher program.
The Louisiana Federation for Children (LFC)—an instrumental component in promoting and implementing the expanded program—applauded Louisiana State Superintendent John White and the Department of Education for working vigorously to provide Louisiana parents with the opportunity to choose the best educational environment for their children. (Read More)