Why Louisiana parents love their Scholarship Program school

Last week the American Federation for Children and the Black Alliance for Educational Options released the 2015 Parental Satisfaction Survey. The survey results showed that parents are satisfied with every aspect of the Louisiana Scholarship Program, which allows their children to escape failing or underperforming schools.

91.2 percent of parents said they are satisfied or very satisfied with their child’s scholarship school, and 91.6 percent were happy with their child’s academic performance.

Why are Louisiana parents so positive about their Louisiana Scholarship Program school? Invariably it comes down to one word – choice. There are examples of empowered parents across Louisiana, choosing schools that meet the unique needs of their children.

DSC_4489As a mother of twins growing up in New Orleans, Christine Watler understood the challenges her sons faced as African American males. She knew the statistics – too many young men going to jail or getting killed – and it scared her.

She was determined to get Machi and Malachi into a school that would provide them with a challenging learning environment and the foundation to become successful young men. In The Good Shepherd Nativity Mission School, Christine found that safe haven where her sons can excel. “I feel like I’m saving their lives,” said Watler.

A recent study by Tulane University’s Education Research Alliance for New Orleans showed the city’s parents considered a variety of factors when choosing a school – including location, extracurricular activities and academics.

“Each student learns differently, has different needs, thrives best in different environments, and each family has different values for their children’s education,” said Ann Duplessis, president of the Louisiana Federation for Children.

In many cases, the Louisiana Scholarship Program allows parents to address a very specific need.

Pamela Gauthier would cry every nine weeks during her son’s report card conferences. Joseph, who has Down syndrome, was not making any progress in his public school. “There was no hope, no progress,” said Gauthier.

Thanks to the Louisiana Scholarship Program, Pamela was able to enroll Joseph in Greater Baton Rouge Hope Academy – a school that serves children with special needs. She saw immediate progress, with Joseph showing improvement on his first report card.

“This would not have been possible without the Louisiana Scholarship Program. I just couldn’t believe that this opportunity was here,” said Pamela. “A way was made for Joseph.”

Enacted in 2008 by a bipartisan group of legislators, the Louisiana Scholarship Program currently serves 7,632 students in 131 schools and 47 school districts across the state.