It’s all about a choice. School choice rings from the hills as the clarion call from reformers. “Parents need a choice,” they say smugly, while counting their private foundation grant cash in their skinny jeans. And who could argue? Choice sounds great. It’s like Burger King: school anyway you want it.
So some parents got a choice. Without information. With smug sloganeering about superior private schools, filled with visions of their children studying philosophy in wood-paneled prep academies. Instead, they got snowed in a White-out:
As Gov. Bobby Jindal tries again to fund his controversial school voucher program, new test scores indicate that many of the current students educated with public money in private schools are not thriving. Or at least they aren’t yet.
Released Wednesday, LEAP scores for third- through eighth-graders show only 40 percent of voucher students scored at or above grade level this past spring. The state average for all students was 69 percent.
For accountability purposes, students attending private schools at taxpayer expense take the same standardized tests as their peers in public schools. In 2011, when the voucher program operated only in New Orleans, students averaged 33 percent proficiency.
Now seven schools in Jefferson and Orleans parishes have results so low — less than 25 percent of voucher students proficient for three years running — that they have been barred from accepting new voucher students in the fall, as per state policy. In Orleans, the schools are Life of Christ Academy, the Upperroom Bible Church Academy, Bishop McManus, Conquering Word Christian Academy Eastbank and Holy Rosary Academy. In Jefferson, they are Faith Christian Academy and Conquering Word Christian Academy.
From failing schools to failing schools. A difference without a distinction. Choosing without a choice. And John White sees the writing on the wall. As the walls of Jindal’s Education reform sandcastle tumble down in the courts and legislature, White is out the door:
Rumors have persisted for several days now that White would be leaving his post at the end of the current legislative session, which must adjourn by June 6.
Those rumors reached a new pitch on Wednesday with word that White would be headed “for Duncanland” in June.
For those unfamiliar with the Obama cabinet, “Duncanland” would be Washington where Arne Duncan serves as Secretary of Education. Before joining the Obama administration, Duncan served as chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools whence controversial former Recovery School District Superintendent Paul Vallas came. White succeeded Vallas as RSD superintendent before being elevated to his current post by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) at the behest of Gov. Bobby Jindal in January of 2012.
BESE President Chas Roemer, contacted about the report that White was headed for Washington, said he had not heard any such report.
To the escape hatches! No ed reformer hack left behind!
Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, Louisiana, because Bobby J’s crackpot voucher scheme just took a death blow from the Louisiana Supreme Court. By a vote of 6-1, the Supreme Court invalidated the voucher payment plan, citing the fact that using MFP funds to pay private school tuition was unconstitutional. Read more:
The key issue is whether the source of public school aid — it is called the Minimum Foundation Program, called MFP — can be used to pay for vouchers, which finance tuition and some mandatory fees.
The ruling struck down the MFP funding mechanism that the Louisiana Legislature overwhelmingly approved last year.
State Superintendent of Education John White said earlier that the voucher aid alone costs about $22 million per year.
The state is facing a $1.3 billion shortfall for the upcoming financial year to maintain aid for state services at current levels.
White has said he is confident that, even if vouchers were struck down, state officials would find a way to continue the aid.
He did not spell out specifics. White is in Washington, D.C. Tuesday.
The ruling said: “We agree with the district court that once funds are dedicated to the state’s Minimum Foundation Program for public education, the constitution prohibits those funds from being expended on the tuition costs of nonpublic schools and nonpublic entities.”
Johnny WHITE is surfing his CV for some new gigs. This ship is going way, way down.
Voucher-proponents are rightly dumbfounded, but insist the state will continue to pay for them. With a $1.3 state budget deficit, you can bet that ain’t going to happen.
Voucher oucher indeed.
I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't feeling overwhelmed by all the rapid changes happening in the education sphere. I'm positive I'm not alone in feeling this way - based on the feedback, articles and correspondence I've been receiving from local and national groups and individuals. As I struggled to zero in on a topic where I could help or enlighten the most, something else even more screwed up would be sent to me.
Louisiana Department of Education, Superintendent John White, and Governor Bobby Jindal Double Down on Creationist Voucher Schools
Superintendent John White Qualifies Six More Creationist Voucher Schools for 2012-2013 School Year, Bringing the Total to 26.
On Tuesday, March 19, the Louisiana State Supreme Court will finally consider whether Bobby Jindal's school vouchers scheme violates the Louisiana State Constitution. Things aren't shaping up too well for Team Jindal. Surprisingly (at least to me), District Court Judge Tim Kelley ruled that Jindal's vouchers scheme was unconstitutional, because it relied entirely on funding through the State's Minimum Foundation Program, which is specifically established to fund public schools in Louisiana.
A national magazine takes a close look at the bizarre coincidence that some of America’s richest people, while not entranced enough to LIVE in Louisiana, are sufficiently interested in our education system to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to local education campaigns and political action committees.
It appears that the nation’s one-percenters are obsessed with poor Louisiana’s “experimental” education system. Like any good patricians, they sprinkle some (to them) insignificant amounts of cash toward this grand experiment that is our children’s future:
Last fall, a coterie of extremely wealthy billionaires, among them New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, turned the races for unpaid positions on the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) into some of the most expensive in the state’s history. Seven pro-education “reform” candidates for the BESE outraised eight candidates endorsed by the teacher’s unions by $2,386,768 to $199,878, a ratio of nearly twelve to one. In just one of these races, the executive director of Teach for America Greater New Orleans-Louisiana Delta, Kira Orange Jones, outspent attorney Louella Givens, who was endorsed by the state’s main teacher’s unions, by more than thirty-four to one: $472,382 to $13,815.
It turns out that two practical considerations drive this spending:
- Louisiana is a “cheap” state to play in. Politics might seem expensive here to the regular joe, but compared to TV ad rates in places like Florida or California, Louisiana is basically the low rent district. Furthermore, the counter-veiling forces, including teachers’ unions and advocacy groups, are basically not equipped to respond. They are broke and largely broken in the public opinion.
- Bobby Jindal has declared full-scale, no-holds-barred war on education and is unconstrained in his zeal to attempt total transformation. In other words, there are zero political obstacles in Louisiana for his agenda. Therefore, he can adopt as extreme agenda as possible, which only bolsters his standing in his ever-lasting run for another, higher office.
Read the whole article here.