La. Supt. John White Asks Private Schools to Take Voucher Kids for Free
Louisiana has a voucher program. It is not working test score wonders. In December 2015, Danielle Drelinger of the Times-Picayune noted, “If the voucher schools were their own school system, it would be the fifth-worst of 76 in the state.”
Most Louisiana voucher students (41 percent, it seems) come from New Orleans, a city where school choice already reigns in the form of charters.
Based on Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) data, only 1,420 new students applied for the program for the 2016-17 school year.
No definitive, positive research exists to justify the continued existence of Louisiana’s voucher program, which is supposed to provide low-income students with the option to attend private school using public money in order to escape the so-called failure of public schools, where failure is determined via school letter grades of C, D, and F. However, there is plenty of negative research (see here and here and here, for example) to show that in Louisiana, sending public money to private schools isn’t delivering on the corporate-reform payout of higher test scores. Louisiana’s voucher program is not outdoing local public school systems– yet Louisiana state superintendent John White wants that voucher program to live.
As it stands, LDOE does not have enough money to pay for all 7,807 students seeking vouchers for 2016-17. It has to cut 362 students. Thus, White is asking private schools to accept the students for free– as a foot-in-the-door to goad the state into later paying the private schools for the remaining students. As Melinda Deslatte of the Associated Press reports, White reasons that the cost to educate these student will be “nearly the same amount” and that he has written legislators to try to convince them to pay the extra $2 million even as he is asking private schools to enroll the students for no cost. Though that issue of voucher cost effectiveness is in dispute, the greater question concerns why Louisiana taxpayers should continue footing the bill at all for a voucher program that does not do what it purports: “save” students from failing schools.
Still, the school choice arm of the University of Arkansas (UArk) is attempting to come to White’s rescue by publishing a working paper advancing the idea that eliminating Louisiana’s voucher program would increase state costs. (Co-author of the piece, Julie Trivitt, who is herself Walton-funded to the degree that her department advertises ‘We are Walton,” once stated on FB that she “bet” I was “funded by the teachers union.”)
In short, the UArk message for Louisiana is to keep the state’s failing voucher program– not because the program works– but because it is cheaper.
The title of the UArk working paper is, “Squeezing the Public School Districts: The Fiscal Effects of Eliminating the Louisiana Scholarship Program,” which makes it sound like the state’s keeping a failing voucher program is good because it is good for the public school bottom line.
The supposed savings it promotes are for a flunkie program.
If my car is on blocks, I save on gas, but I go nowhere.
If the voucher schools were their own school system, it would be the fifth-worst of 76 in the state….