Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Friday, August 31, 2012

Cheers for Louisiana Voucher Program

The state of Louisiana now has the most comprehensive school voucher program in the united States, thanks to a new law that will allow more low and middle-income students in substandard public schools to use public funds to attend private schools. Beginning this fall, students whose parents have income less than $60,000, and who attend a public school where at least 25% of students test below grade level, will be eligible to take up to $8,800 annually to a charter school of their choice. Louisiana currently has 120 of these charter schools, and that number is expected to rise as the demand for vouchers increases. At least 6,000 students have already applied for the 5,000 available spots.

Governor Bobby Jindal said, "We have a moral imperative to improve the education system for our children, our state and our country, and this new law will be a game changer for Louisiana." The new law passed this year makes it easier to form charter schools by streamlining the application process. Next year, students of all income levels will be able to use mini-vouchers worth up to $1,300 per student per class to pay private-sector vendors for classes not offered in the public schools. This voucher money, which is subtracted from public school funding, can be used to pay tutors, online schools, businesses, and other education providers. It's estimated that this newly expanded voucher program may remove as much as $3.3 billion a year from public schools, so you can see where opposition to this plan comes from. Vouchers can be used to pay for tuition at religious schools, and the teachers unions want to stop that.

Louisiana may be creating a model that other states might like to follow, since 26 states have been given waivers to opt out of the unreasonable regulations imposed by the famous No Child Left Behind law.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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