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DeVos Pal, Eddie Rispone: School Vouchers Give Public Schools “Influence” to Not “Go Out of Business.”

October 20, 2019

Eddie Rispone is the former chair of the Louisiana Federation for Children (LFC), a state branch of the American Federation for Children (AFC), the school choice organization formerly chaired by US ed sec, Betsy DeVos, and also the former treasurer of the Louisiana Federation for Children Action Fund PAC.

Rispone is in the November 16, 2019, runoff for Louisiana governor against incumbent John Bel Edwards.

In his views on education, Rispone follows the lead of DeVos.

In this June 2016 video, LFC chair Rispone is pitching for Louisiana school vouchers.

I have transcribed the 2 1/2-minute video in full, below:

I would ask that this (fully funding Louisiana school vouchers) is not a Democrat, this is not a Republican, this is not affluent, this is not a low- or middle-income issue. This is for our children.

It’s the only way we’re going to improve our society.

We have a system that has really deteriorated over the last forty to fifty years. Mediocricy (sp.) is now considered excellent.

The only way we’re going to improve that is through, through choice, and giving them choice. That does two things: One, it gives the parent that is not happy with the school that they’re in an opportunity to go find a school that would make them happy. The thing that tha does, it creates, even in the traditional public schools, it creates influence for those who truly care about the kids in the traditional public school system, and truly want to improve that system, it given them the influence to make the change because if they don’t, they’re going to go out of business. So, it’s the same thing that happened to Chrysler, the same thing that happened to GM, the same thing that happened to IBM. They thought they had a monopoly.

Thje ones that truly care about the kids now have some stroke to go into these school boards and into these systems and says (sp.), “We have to change, or we’re going to go out of business.” And that’s one reason why they fight choice: Because they know it’s going to make them accountable. But the good ones don’t really care. They’re, we have good systems that are doing fine, but we have the majority of them are not doing fine.

The reason our scholarship program is very important to the children of Louisiana because it gives them an opportunity to go to a safe school with a quality education no matter what their zip code is or their income level is. We have to fully fund the scholarship program because the children that are already in it need to continue in it. Also, there’s many children trying to get into it, which we’ve already approved nearly 8,000, and we have about 7,100 in it today. So, I would hope that they would all put the children first and fully fund the program, and do it convincingly, so parents and guardians will not have to be concerned with it in the future.

One month later, in July 2016, I posted about Louisiana’s voucher program, in a post entitled, “About the Louisiana Voucher Program, Where Failure Really Is an Option.”

Below is the close of that post:

In closing, a few points:

  • The 7,807 voucher students who qualify based on income are not all new to the program. Only 1,420 are noted as new applicants for 2016-17.
  • Only 588 students applying for 2016-17 vouchers attended a local-board-operated public school in 2015-16. That does not even average to 9 students per school district. (Louisiana has 69 local school districts.) However…
  • …Louisiana vouchers are not popular statewide. New Orleans and Baton Rouge are the principal cities where students are using vouchers.
  • Most Louisiana vouchers are being used at Catholic schools.
  • Most voucher students are elementary school students, and the Louisiana voucher program appears to be dependent upon first-time kindergarteners for its survival.

Now, all of this choice is supposed to pay off in the corporate-reform currency of success, the *high test score.* But high test scores are not a hallmark of the Louisiana voucher program, and they certainly are not a hallmark for the all-charter New Orleans RSD whose would-be students are grossly over-represented among voucher users– which only serves to prove that what matters is choice for choice’s sake– and that failure really is an option.

In May 2019, Louisiana’s school voucher program was featured on New Orleans Public Radio for the failure that it is— and by this time, DeVos was trying to distance herself from that failure by terming Louisiana’s voucher program as “not well conceived.”

And from a May 2019 article featuring Rispone:

Of the $1 million he’s spent on political causes since 2015, records show $600,000 has gone to political action committees backing candidates, regardless of their party affiliation, who support charters and the state school voucher program.

Rispone said he supports “school choice” because he thinks it will lead to a better-educated workforce, which would benefit Louisiana’s business climate. He grew up in a working-class household and attributes his success in part to attending Catholic schools, an opportunity he worries is out of reach for many families today.

A recent investigation by | The Times-Picayune and WVUE Fox 8 concluded that students enrolled in private schools using the state voucher program, which Rispone has championed, often perform poorly on standardized tests. The private schools they attend are often considered “failing” by the state education department.

In Rispone’s mind, only traditional public schools can go out of business. Not vouchers.

Eddie Rispone: School choice ideologue.

Just like Betsy.

Betsy DeVos 2

Betsy DeVos


Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.


Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

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From → Betsy Devos, Vouchers

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