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  • Louisiana's Plan to Empower Parents Through School Choice

    According to Dr. Michael Walker Jones of the Louisiana Association of Educators, low-income parents “don’t have a clue” when it comes to making decisions about their children’s education. Last week, in an interview with the New Orleans Times-Picayune, he stated: “If I’m a parent in poverty, I have no clue because I’m trying to struggle and live day-to-day.”

    Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) was quick to respond to Jones, who leads the state’s largest education union:

    The union leader’s comments are just the type of top-down, arrogant, elitist mentality that has badly damaged our system of public education in this country. I believe that parents—regardless of their income or circumstances—know what’s best for their children. It’s ridiculous and insulting to say that parents can’t make decisions in the best interest of their children.

    And the governor’s newly unveiled education reform plan reflects this belief.

    Among other changes, such as reforming teacher tenure policies and increasing flexibility for school leaders, Jindal’s plan seeks to empower parents through school choice.

    Perhaps most notably, the governor calls for a restructuring of student funding in such a way that gives students maximum flexibility in using their state education dollars. He called for education dollars to “follow the child to whatever educational option meets their needs.”

    The plan also includes expanding the Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program—a program for children from low-income families (below 250 percent of the poverty line) attending underperforming public schools in New Orleans. The governor proposes expanding the program to low-income students statewide who are attending schools graded at “C” or below. This translates to approximately 70 percent of the state’s students being eligible for the program.

    Jindal’s plan also expands private-school choice by putting into place “a rebate for donations made to nonprofit organizations that offer scholarships to low-income students to attend private school.” Additionally, the governor’s proposals would promote the growth of charter schools by making “it easier for high quality charter operators to expand.”

    On top of these reforms, the governor’s plan takes an innovative approach to increasing “course choices for students” by “allowing a variety of providers, including school districts, virtual schools, colleges and universities, and businesses with training programs, to offer students additional options.”

    Instead of pushing parents out of one of the most important decisions of their children’s lives, the governor’s plan supports families by opening up the doors of educational opportunity. It boosts the likelihood that a child—regardless of his or her background—will receive a quality education, giving greater hope for a promising future.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Louisiana's Plan to Empower Parents Through School Choice

    1. PaulC37 says:

      That I would agree with a Union Official is surprising to me at least but as a sound bite there is underlying truth in his statement..

      Something never discussed because its so PC and repugnant to the Media and Democrats and that's accepting IQ inequality.

      It exists, I do not know the solution but we will never be able to attain equality unless its addressed.

      Its special education needs that must be addressed virtually on an individual basis. A monumental task.

      • Paul 1 says:

        If we allow the fee market to work. It will take care of itself. Through the voucher system, there will appear a market for special needs children. From this will come schools and programs suited to them. This is also will support those kids special other Special Education needs as well, since many of those kids also get reimbursed from Medicaid.

        If anyone would like proof of how well this works, just take a look at what has happened due to the restructuring of New Orleans Schools after Katrina.

    2. Bobbie says:

      "According to Dr. Michael Walker Jones of the Louisiana Association of Educators, low-income parents “don’t have a clue” when it comes to making decisions about their children’s education." That's what we can expect from a professional? low income parents don't have a clue, eh?? how dishonorable of a person to call themselves dr to speak for low income parents. There's no trust in most people that receive a professional title off tax payers who are unjustly misinformed whose money wrongfully services government associates of indoctrination.

      How demeaning! People making low income are the taxes taken from their income going into the cost of dr michael walker jones telling people they "don't have a clue!" A man of simple ignorance. Especially when the dr. by title only, offers no opportunities for decisions TO be made, only to exploit those he says "have no clue." When "school choice" promotes "personal dignity" in students and parents, the doctor is too simple without a clue and shouldn't exist in anyone's budget expenses!

      • Paul1 says:

        Perhaps if he were standing in line with the low income parents desperate to get get children into the limited Charter School slots, he might see some parents very much concerned about their children education and their future.

    3. Steven A. Sylwester says:

      I have proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution regarding Public Education at: http://steven-a-sylwester.blogspot.com/2012/01/re

      My proposed amendment has five sections. Sections 2 and 3 are the following:

      Proposal #6: Public Education

      Re: Article. I. Section. 8.

      Section. 2.
      The Congress shall require the States to provide thirteen years of tuition-free public education for all United States citizens and all otherwise legal residents from age five through age eighteen. Public education shall be according to three national standards:
      1) Every student shall be literate at no less than age-appropriate-grade-level (plus or minus one year) while being actively challenged and fully facilitated to achieve personal potentials in all core academic subjects, including those of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (“literate” being defined as educated, cultured, and lucid within an American social, philosophical, and historical context as taught in a thirteen-year standard curriculum that explores America from 1492 to the current time, with an ability to read, write, and effectively communicate in the English language using current computer technologies);
      2) Exceptional students shall be individually advanced to the academic level at which they can succeed while being challenged; and
      3) Students whose academic skills competency and knowledge proficiency are measured in the aggregate minimally either two years below or two years above age-appropriate-grade-level shall be designated as Special Education students and shall receive educational funding at twice the normal rate (competency and proficiency testing shall be done when requested by a teacher, parent, or student).

      Thirteen years of tuition-free public education shall not be defined by the completion of a thirteen-year standard curriculum that ends in high school graduation in every case. Some lower-tier Special Education students will remain functionally illiterate despite all teaching efforts while some upper-tier Special Education students will graduate from a community college or a public university before their nineteenth birthday and shall thereby receive their college and/or university education on a tuition-free basis.

      The term “tuition-free” applies only in the case of public education institutions, including any school designations that encompass any part of the spectrum from kindergarten enrollee through master degree recipient, that is: inclusive from primary school through public university. It does not include graduate studies at the doctoral degree level.

      Students who enroll in private schools of any sort shall receive government vouchers that are the equivalent of their local public school tuition if the private schools they enroll in are accredited by the government. Government accreditation of private schools shall only regard standard subjects that are common to local public schools and shall not regard religious subjects of any sort. A homeschool student shall receive government vouchers to rent textbooks and an educational computer hardware and software package if those items have been approved and accredited by the government for homeschool use, if the student is fully registered according to the laws governing homeschool status and is government-approved in that status, and if the total worth of the vouchers for the student does not exceed the local public school tuition cost.

      The government vouchers shall pay the vendor or the private school directly in all cases, and in no case shall government vouchers be redeemable for cash by either a student or a student’s parent or legal guardian.

      Section. 3.
      The Congress shall require the States to identify all exceptional students who are intellectually either moderately-to-highly gifted or exceptionally-to-profoundly gifted by standard academic measures (“moderately-to-highly gifted” being in the top two percent or 98th percentile and “exceptionally-to-profoundly gifted” being in the top one percent or 99th percentile). The United States shall recognize its most gifted citizens — its geniuses — as a natural resource and a national treasure, and shall maximize the potential of that resource and treasure through its public education system in every individual case beginning at the earliest possible opportunity. However, no interventions shall ever be made against the will of the student, regardless of the student’s potential to excel; the Pursuit of Happiness shall stand as an unalienable Right of every individual citizen, even the citizen who is a minor child.

      The Congress shall forbid any notion that the purpose of public education is to socialize the citizenry. The purpose of public education shall be to make citizens literate in useful knowledge, confident in factoring new information into old thinking, and competent in self-directed analysis, so that public education might inspire joy and courage in its graduates through the benefits that derive from life-long learning habits, a purposeful informed participation in America’s future, and an enduring appreciation for political dissent and for the American free enterprise system. Public education in the United States shall work to cultivate this flower: that, in every citizen’s life, the gift to America shall be the citizen and the gift to the citizen shall be America.

      * * *

      Steven A. Sylwester

    4. Michael DeCarlo says:

      In California there has been a rash of child molestation cases within the public school system. Why isn't the school choice advocates using this as an example of why every student needs school choice? These students are trapped within an inferior educational system and at the mercy of a teachers union more interested in protecting a child molesters pension than protecting students. The school choice advocates should be making this point while these cases are in the news.

    5. Mike Grandinetti says:

      I travel the country teaching entrepreneurship to high school students. I taught a Bizacmp in Shreveport, LA for 7 years. I applaud the governor’s efforts. By offer appropriet choices will create a more motivated student. There are (we are creating one) programs that help match a students interest with curriculum (that has been tried and rated). Tools like these will enable and empower parents to make the best choice for their child.

      As far as the teacher unions there is a new paradigm shifting. Away from the teachers to inspiring student to become lifelong learners. Stuednts will learn inspite of their teachers. I sit on the Board of Directors for California’s largest charter school management company. Our founder has writen the book on Parent Choice.

      We look forward to seeing the successes in your state.

      For the children,

      Mr. Mike

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