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Mercedes Schneider here recounts the sad story of Louisiana’s voucher program.
Vouchers were piloted in Néw Orleans, then made available to students across the state in 2012-13. Governor Bobby Jindal and State Commissioner of Education John White foresaw a revolutionary change with tens of thousands of public school students fleeing their “failing” schools to enroll in private and religious schools, where they would enjoy a first-rate education.
But it didn’t happen. The original plan was to divert funding from the state’s minimum foundation funding for public schools, but the courts said the plan was unconstitutional. Then it turned out that the school offering the largest number of vouchers was a small church school without a curriculum or certified teachers. Within a year, it was disqualified for mishandling public money.
The biggest problems, however, were the lack of demand for vouchers by students and the many private schools that did not want voucher students. Less than 10% of students in schools rated D or F asked for a voucher: Not exactly a stampede for the exits.
Added to that was the lackluster performance of students in voucher schools, which was below the state average.
Now John White is offering additional incentives (money) to induce more private schools to accept vouchers.
Sad. No transformation. No flight from public schools. A bust.