State Superintendent of Education John White
In a revealing discussion of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s school voucher scheme, State Superintendent of Education John White said Thursday that the State Department of Education, not parents or schools, will have the final say in deciding which students get to attend private and religious schools at public expense.
White’s admission came after State Rep. John Bel Edwards said that he objects to the governor’s voucher plan because non-public schools will not have to conform to the same accountability standards as their public counterparts, and because they are able to selectively determine their students.
Addressing the luncheon crowd at the League of Women Voters of Baton Rouge meeting, Edwards said, “If you don’t think the private and parochial schools will cherry pick the best students, you didn’t just eat a seafood lunch.”
The Jindal administration is making vouchers a centerpiece of the 2012 legislative agenda, claiming that parents should have more choices for their children’s education. Opponents say that, unless the schools release information comparable to that available for public schools, parents cannot make an informed choice.
In his answer to those objections, White revealed that neither the parent nor the school will actually be deciding which students attend the voucher schools.
Under the plan, private and religious schools will tell the state how many voucher students whey are prepared to accept. Parents interested in the program will give the state a list of schools they would like their children to attend. Bureaucrats at the State Department of Education would then presumably match the students to the school.
“The state then says to the school…you are going to take those children,” White said. “At that point it is the law that you accept those children.”
Rather than appease opponents, White’s announcement is likely to raise many more questions about the voucher scheme. Parents may be shocked to learn that, despite the governor’s talk about parental choice, the real decisions will be made by the State Department of Education.
And skeptics will continue to believe that the private and religious schools will find ways to ultimately exclude any students that believe do not fit in their institutions.