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Ear to the Ground

Louisiana Moving to Privatize Education

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Posted on Jun 4, 2012
Gage Skidmore

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal muscled the plan through the Legislature this spring over fierce objections from Democrats and teachers.

After attempts to partially privatize Social Security under President George W. Bush proved fruitless, Republicans have taken aim at the next government-run industry they would like to see move from the public sector to the private: education. Louisiana, under Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, will be the first state—but probably not the last—to implement a bold new plan to privatize education.

Under the new system, parents can apply for vouchers to enroll their children at private schools, even small church-run facilities. Only lower and middle-class students will initially be eligible for the vouchers to cover tuition in more than 120 Louisiana private schools beginning this fall. But next year the program will add a mini-voucher that students of all incomes can use to take classes not offered in the public schools. For each voucher accepted, the state will deduct funding from the student’s local public school.

Officials expect the program will save the state money in the long run, but no fiscal analysis has been done. —TEB

Reuters via The Huffington Post:

By law, the value of each voucher can’t exceed the sum the state would spend educating that child in public school—on average, $8,800 a year. Small private schools often charge as little as $3,000 to $5,000 a year.

Yet at some private schools with low tuition, administrators contacted by Reuters said they would also ask the state to cover additional, unspecified fees, which would bring the cost to taxpayers close to the $8,800 cap. The law requires the state to cover both tuition and fees.

In the separate mini-voucher program due to launch in 2013, students across Louisiana, regardless of income, will be able to tap the state treasury to pay for classes that are offered by private vendors and not available in their regular public schools.

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