Questions Needed for Voucher Proposal Alternatives

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As seen on the website LouisianaProgress.org, it’s clear there are many facets to the option called “Educational Choice.” And Caddo voters will have to examine the bigger picture coming out of Baton Rouge. Therefore we will be offering the text from a recent email for examination.

In “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” Diane Ravitch (former Assistant Secretary of Education under President George H.W. Bush) discusses how private schools and charter schools and “choice” do not solve our education problems. Some private schools and charter schools are truly great; others are mediocre, and some are awful, just as there are awful, mediocre, and great public schools.
We must focus on good public schools for all children. Every school should be a school of choice.
The current debate on “School choice” focuses on private school choice through vouchers.  Unfortunately, the administration plan for vouchers for 380,000 is unrealistic- there is no capacity.  Is the state of Louisiana going to divert public money to help start private schools?  What is the real intent of a voucher program?  Are we draining resources from public schools to non-accountable private schools?
Is Governor Jindal willing to make all schools that accept vouchers be accountable? Will all the students be tested?  Will the schools be evaluated on the same accountability standards?  Click here to read the Louisiana Budget Project report on Voucher Accountability.
Melissa Flournoy, Director of Louisiana Progress echoed this statement at the Press Club on Monday.
“The tuition is not the hard part, in addition, at any private school, parents must also pay fees, books, uniforms and other costs that often run into thousands of dollars.”
 
“Really, the only people who are going to be able to access the vouchers are at the top end of the eligibility,” she said. Those are the parents who can come up with another $5,000 or so out of their own pockets to supplement what the state gives them.” Click here for the article
Let’s get real. The single mom with three kids who must work 45-50 hours a week at a low paying job, will not be able to afford to send her kids to a voucher school.  She is stuck with her neighborhood public school.  The concern is that vouchers will further segregate our children by leaving the poorest children with the poorest schools.
Priority One should be improving public education. 
Thomas Friedman states in “The World is Flat” that the key to prosperity for a nation begins with quality education and health care for all. Let’s improve our public schools for all children, not siphon away resources to private schools and further segregate the haves from the have-nots.
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