Louisiana schools to undergo major reforms

Amy Scott Apr 16, 2012
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Louisiana schools to undergo major reforms

Amy Scott Apr 16, 2012

David Brancaccio: This week Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is expected to sign a controversial law that overhauls education in that state.  The package of reforms will create one of the largest school voucher programs in the country.

From the Marketplace Education Desk at WYPR in Baltimore, Amy Scott reports.

Amy Scott: More than fifty years ago free market economist Milton Friedman proposed a system of school vouchers. It would let parents use taxpayer money to send their kids to private schools. Today his vision is gaining traction.

Robert Enlow is president of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

Robert Enlow: What’s happened in the last two years, is you’ve had Indiana and Louisiana, between the two of them, make about a million kids eligible to receive public funds to go to schools that work better for them.

In Louisiana, low and middle-income students in struggling schools will be able to use vouchers not just to pay for private school, but to do apprenticeships or take courses online. Teachers unions say vouchers take money away from the schools that need it most.

Leslie Jacobs served on the state board of education and now runs an education reform group. She says private schools are also less accountable than public schools.

Leslie Jacobs: If public money’s going to follow these students, then the schools taking in and educating these students need to show that they’re performing at a level higher than a failing school would be.

A smaller voucher program in New Orleans has been popular with parents. But Jacobs says student achievement has been mixed.

I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.

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