Louisiana’s bold bid to privatize schools
This is going to be a fascinating experiment for all of us to observe [the state has already run a pilot program]. The article makes much of the fact that some of the schools are below-par in instruction and curriculum—but when one compares that with the *actual outcomes* of the public-school educated kids in Louisiana, one realizes that those concerns are easily overcome if you’re a parent wanting your child to succeed and learn.
The issue I’m more concerned about with this system is that government dollars always deflate value; they do not increase it. And government dollars also warp the free market, creating a price bubble that serves to maintain those businesses that should no longer exist and would not, in a free market. This inevitably increases prices [one can see the impact of government dollars on price most clearly in higher education and healthcare.] While it’s acknowledged by the Constitution that, despite that deflation in value, the State should manage some very limited duties, those duties do not include the State’s giving private schools tax dollars.
Of course, teachers are outraged by the plan, which gives parents the control to say where their children will attend school. Good.
From Reuters, where there is more:
Of the plans so far put forward, Louisiana’s plan is by far the broadest. This month, eligible families, including those with incomes nearing $60,000 a year, are submitting applications for vouchers to state-approved private schools.
That list includes some of the most prestigious schools in the state, which offer a rich menu of advanced placement courses, college-style seminars and lush grounds. The top schools, however, have just a handful of slots open. The Dunham School in Baton Rouge, for instance, has said it will accept just four voucher students, all kindergartners. As elsewhere, they will be picked in a lottery.
Far more openings are available at smaller, less prestigious religious schools, including some that are just a few years old and others that have struggled to attract tuition-paying students. ...
... The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that vouchers can be used for religious education so long as the state is not promoting any one faith but letting parents choose where to enroll their children.
In Louisiana, Superintendent of Education John White said state officials have at one time or another visited all 120 schools in the voucher program and approved their curricula, including specific texts. He said the state plans more “due diligence” over the summer, including additional site visits to assess capacity.
In general, White said he will leave it to principals to be sure their curriculum covers all subjects kids need and leave it to parents to judge the quality of each private school on the list.
That infuriates the teachers union, which is weighing a lawsuit accusing the state of improperly diverting funds from public schools to private programs of questionable value.
“Because it’s private, it’s considered to be inherently better,” said Steve Monaghan, president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers. “From a consumer perspective, it’s buyer beware.”
To date, private schools have not had to give their students state standardized tests, so there’s no straightforward way for parents to judge their performance. Starting next year, any student on a voucher will have to take the tests; each private school must report individual results to parents and aggregate results to the state.
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