It doesn’t look like many Louisiana families are anxious to join their state’s elected leaders in abandoning public schools. It appears that the state’s radical new private school voucher scheme has attracted just 10,000 applications out of 450,000 students. Moreover, about 1,000 of those applicants already participate in an existing voucher program limited to New Orleans.

Education reform advocate Diane Ravitch isn’t impressed.

“Not exactly a stampede for the exits. No big rush to enroll in the little church schools that are supposedly better than the public schools that [Louisiana Superintendent] John White supervises.”

So far, Ravitch notes, private and religious schools in the state have said they will enroll only new 5,000 voucher students this coming year. Eventually, however, the voucher scheme could divert tens of millions of tax dollars from public schools to pay for tuition at private and religious schools.

We have already reported about the questionable approaches to education taken by some of the religious schools accepting those vouchers. Those schools also won’t be required to meet academic and testing standards expected of public schools. Ravitch notes some of the growing concerns:

“One of the prime movers of the ‘reform’… Read More

As this headline on Rachel Maddow’s blog says, “Publicly funded religion for me, not for thee.”

We told you last month that a Louisiana legislator had turned against an already-passed private school voucher scheme in his state because a Muslim school had applied to accept those tax dollars. But he’s not the only state lawmaker who has problems with the concept of religious freedom:

‘I liked the idea of giving parents the option of sending their children to a public school or a Christian school,’ (Republican state Rep. Valarie) Hodges said.

Hodges mistakenly assumed that ‘religious’ meant ‘Christian.’

HB976, now signed into law as Act 2, proposed, among other things, a voucher program allowing state educational funds to be used to send students to schools run by religious groups …

‘Unfortunately it will not be limited to the Founders’ religion,’ Hodges said. ‘We need to insure that it does not open the door to fund radical Islam schools. There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently. I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana.’

Yes, you read that right: she wanted the taxpayer-funded program limited… Read More

Because private school vouchers will force taxpayers to fund this kind of nonsense:

Thousands of American school pupils are to be taught that the Loch Ness monster is real – in an attempt by religious teachers to disprove Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Pupils attending privately-run Christian schools in the southern state of Louisiana will learn from textbooks next year, which claim Scotland’s most famous mythological beast is a living creature.

Thousands of children are to receive publicly-funded vouchers enabling them to attend the schools – which follow a strict fundamentalist curriculum.

The Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) programme teaches controversial religious beliefs, aimed at disproving evolution and proving creationism.

Youngsters will be told that if it can be proved that dinosaurs walked the earth at the same time as man, then Darwinism is fatally flawed.

We have already reported about Louisiana’s radical new voucher scheme, which will drain millions of dollars from public schools to pay for tuition at private and religious schools throughout the state. Most of the openings for voucher students will be at small religious schools, not respected but exclusive private schools.

Here’s some of what Louisiana students will be learning — at… Read More

It’s safe to say that some of our lawmaker neighbors in Louisiana have been experiencing some buyer’s remorse since approving a school voucher scheme designed to funnel millions of dollars away from public schools to private and parochial schools earlier this month.

The buyer’s remorse is not because of finances. You can read about the high cost of vouchers and the harm they inflict on education in our post from last week. No, the regret some Louisiana lawmakers have been feeling comes from the realization that if you’re going to set up a voucher system and open it up to private schools, you have to open it to all private schools, not just the private schools you like. Somehow this little fact seems to have escaped some Louisiana officials who supported the plan because, well, we’ll let the Associated Press tell you:

Rep. Kenneth Havard, R-Jackson, objected to including the Islamic School of Greater New Orleans in a list of schools approved by the education department to accept as many as 38 voucher students. Havard said he wouldn’t support any spending plan that “will fund Islamic teaching.”

“I won’t go back home and explain to my… Read More

Because of a lot of hard work by the Texas Freedom Network, our partners in the Coalition for Public Schools, and pro-public education lawmakers, the Texas Legislature has never passed a private school voucher scheme that would drain hundreds of millions of dollars from already cash-strapped neighborhood public schools. But taxpayers in neighboring Louisiana will soon be shelling out big money in a vast voucher scheme to privatize education there.

Parents who hope to use the new vouchers to send their children to the state’s best private schools this fall shouldn’t hold their breath. Most of those schools have very few openings for Louisiana’s new voucher students. (This shouldn’t be a surprise. The best private schools cherry-pick their students. They can turn away students they don’t want and/or have no room for. Public schools take all the students who show up at their doors.)

According to a Reuters article, the most openings are at smaller and less prestigious religious schools — many with some rather questionable approaches to education:

The school willing to accept the most voucher students — 314 — is New Living Word in Ruston, which has a top-ranked basketball team but no library. Students spend… Read More