Jindal’s voucher bill passes

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s school voucher bill has passed through Louisiana’s Senate and House of Representatives, but has been viewed in a critical light by several of Southeastern’s education majors.

The bill, which would give students from low to middle income families a chance to attend private schools, passed through both houses quickly. However, one flaw was pointed out: the lack of accountability if a student using a voucher fails to succeed in their new school. Though a smaller issue on the grand scale of Jindal’s education reform, the Louisiana Department of Education has until August 1 to create a system of accountability. The accountability system would possibly look at the student’s state test scores, but not much more beyond that is known.

“After about three years, if they had some problems, give the private school a warning,” said Barry Erwin, president of the Council for a Better Louisiana, in an interview with the Associated Press. “After four or five years, if they’re still not doing well for those students, you just basically say that they can’t accept any more voucher students.”

Penny Dastague, president of the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, made clear the bill’s intentions.

“We’re not trying to create public schools out of these non-publics,” said Dastague, in an interview with the Associated Press.

Early childhood education major Allison Davis is against the bill, saying that the government should not interfere with private schools.

“Giving lower income students vouchers for private school is an offensive low-blow to public schools,” said Davis. “The government should be focused on putting that money into the public schools that they are so worried about, instead of putting it into the pockets of private school principals.”

Davis also cited the positives and negatives of this bill for the private schools.

“On the upside it will increase their admissions. On the down side, their schools will become overcrowded,” said Davis. “Private schools pride themselves on low student teacher ratios, which will be diminished by this bill. When the private schools reach their capacities, the low income students will be straight back to the public school system.”

The outlook for public schools looks much less fortunate, however. Instead of motivating public schools to raise their standards, the bill chooses to focus on how to spend more money on a private school education.

“I see this as a severe negative loss for public schools,” Davis said. “Less funding, less incentive for young teachers and a diminished focus from state attention. The money will be fueled into private schools, which the state should not have precedence over.”