The Louisiana Senate Education Committee last night passed legislation that wouldsignificantly increase educational options for low-income families via a statewide expansion of the current New Orleans voucher program.
The Louisiana Federation for Children applauded the advancement of the legislation, which, coupled with passage of the bill in the House Education Committee earlier this week, sets the stage for a vote before the full House as soon as next week. The legislation would expand the highly-successful New Orleans voucher program to the rest of the state and expand the criteria for which students are eligible, among other education reforms.
House Bill 976 and Senate Bill 597, authored by Representative Steve Carter and Senator Conrad Appel, respectively, would be the most significant expansion of the Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence (SSEE) program since it was enacted in 2008. Families in Orleans Parish who make less than 250 percent of the federal poverty guideline and whose children attend failing schools are currently eligible. The expanded program would allow students all across the state to receive a voucher to attend a participating private school of their parents’ choice.
In addition, the legislation would create a “parent trigger” for failing schools, expand pathways to create high-quality charter schools, and establish a per course provider program.
“This is a historic moment for our state, our families, and our future,” said LFC’s Lauren Perry. “We are one step closer to ensuring thousands of additional children are provided with the quality education that they deserve. Our work is not done, however, and we urge the House and Senate to put children first by passing this important legislation.”
Despite protests by the state’s teachers unions, the House Education Committee propelled the bill forward by a 12-6 margin and the Senate Education Committee endorsed the bill by a vote of 5-1.
In addition to expanded private school choice, the education reform package includes initiatives that would enhance teacher quality and shift more accountability to school leaders. The plan is amongGov. Jindal’s top priorities for the 2012 legislative session.
The Louisiana Federation for Children is a project of the American Federation for Children. For more information, visit www.Louisiana4Children.org.