Monday, February 6, 2012

Jindal is cherry-picking for vouchers

As Gov. Bobby Jindal ramps up his scheme to spend public education funds on tuition for private and religious schools, evidence is mounting that vouchers do little or nothing to actually improve academic achievement.

That was true last summer, when former BESE member Leslie Jacobs' Educate Now organization produced this study. It revealed that in New Orleans, where Gov. Jindal rammed through a voucher program a couple of years ago, "for the second year in a row, students participating in the voucher program performed worse than students in the RSD!"

And it's true now, as this story by Times-Picayune reporter Andrew Vanacore demonstrates.

Vanacore says the administration "has cherry-picked the rosiest figures" in pushing for a radical, state-wide expansion of the voucher program.

The reporter cites expert researchers who say the New Orleans voucher experiment simple does not provide enough data to draw reliable conclusions about its success.

Jindal's main argument in favor of vouchers is that parents should have more choice. But the article points out that the governor's voucher program does not give parents the facts they need to make an informed choice.

Writes Vanacore:

The absence of hard data may complicate the politics of trying to pass an expansion of the voucher program through the Legislature. Even some of the governor's natural allies, including backers of the charter school movement in New Orleans, are concerned about whether private schools will be held
accountable for the results they produce.
While students on vouchers in New Orleans take the LEAP exam, the schools they attend do not get school performance scores, which would require scores from every student in the building. Without a performance score, the state cannot assign those private schools the letter grades that public schools receive.
All of which leaves parents with less information about how a particular private school is performing.

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