In Its Eighth Year, Louisiana Scholarship Program Empowers Parents

The Louisiana Scholarship Program is entering its eighth year and as the new school year begins, this is an opportune time to look at how the program has given opportunity and hope to thousands of Louisiana families.

Established in New Orleans in 2008, and expanded statewide in 2012, the Louisiana Scholarship Program allows low-income families with students in failing and underperforming public schools or students entering kindergarten for the first time to enroll in the private school of their choice. Student participation in the program has grown from just 640 students in 2008-09 to more than 7,600.

Kirk White (right) with son Geno

But the story of the Louisiana Scholarship Program is more than the growing level of participation. Since the program’s inception, parents have shared with us stories of how the program has changed their lives.

Kirk and Tanya White were like many New Orleans parents, unsatisfied with the city’s public schools. “Before, we were being cheated of a lot of things we see now,” Kirk White told The Daily Signal. “One of those things was education.”

After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, White was forced to quit his job as a truck driver. The Whites applied for scholarships to send their sons Geno and Kole to private schools.

The brothers are now in settings where they thrive. Geno attends Lutheran High School in Metairie, while Kole is enrolled at St. Benedict the Moor in New Orleans.

Kirk White shares the opinion of an overwhelming majority of parents who participate in the Louisiana Scholarship Program.

In a 2015 parental satisfaction survey, 91.2 percent of parents said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their child’s scholarship school and 91.6 percent were happy with their child’s academic performance.

“The proof is in the pudding,” said White. “They’re excelling in all areas.”

Another Louisiana Scholarship Program family, the Ericksons, enrolled their kids at Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport in 2012. “In the society we live in, if you don’t make a certain amount of money, you’re out of luck. Having the scholarship – it’s miraculous,” said a thankful Rebecca Erickson.

“In Louisiana, there are thousands of families like the Whites and Ericksons who are able to select schools that meet the educational, emotional and social needs of their children,” said Ann Duplessis, president of the Louisiana Federation for Children.

“Parents are more informed, empowered and engaged in the education of their children.”