Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bad news trifecta for Jindal's voucher scheme

It hasn't been the best week for Gov. Bobby Jindal's voucher scheme. His plan was blasted from several different directions because it lacks accountability.

On Monday, Advocate reporter Will Sentell posted this story, saying that school superintendents oppose the voucher plan because private and religious schools that accept vouchers will not be held to the same standards as public schools.

The president of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents told Sentell that public schools are given letter grades based on their performance scores, and that all students in public schools must take standardized tests. Unless voucher schools are held to the same standards, he said, parents cannot make informed choices about where to send their children to school.

Also on Monday, the head of the Coalition for Louisiana Progress told the Press Club of Baton Rouge that the governor's voucher scheme is unworkable, according to this story by Advocate bureau chief Mark Ballard.

Melissa Flournoy, who once served as a state representative, told the press club that students "could actually end up in schools that are worse than what they had in the public sector system. At the end of the day vouchers, however appealing they might sound, they will not be a viable public sector response.”

Flournoy said that vouchers would divert money from public schools, and that it would not be possible to find private and religious school seats for the 380,000 students who could be eligible for vouchers under Jindal's plan.

The governor's scheme hit a trifecta of sorts when the Louisiana Budget Project released this study, headlined "Governor Jindal's Voucher Plan Gets an 'F' for Accountability."

The first paragraph of the report sums it all up:

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to dramatically increase the number of students who can attend private schools at public expense is missing a key safeguard: strong oversight and accountability to ensure kids are learning and that taxpayer money is being well-spent. Unfortunately, the governor has rejected all suggestions that private schools be held accountable for their performance in the same way as public schools. Instead, his plans would hand over public resources to private schools with no strings attached.

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