Capitol Access
3:00 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Voucher Eligibility: “C” is for “Choice”

  A bill that would take students attending “C” rated public schools out of eligibility for the voucher program failed to get out of the House Education Committee Wednesday.

“Either ‘C’ schools are failing schools, or they’re not,” stated Amite Representative John Bel Edwards, explaining the proposed program change as simple logic. “This program was premised upon giving choices to parents whose kids were trapped in failing schools. A ‘C’ school is not a failing school. It’s just that simple.”

Debbie Meaux, president of the Louisiana Association of Educators, agreed with Edwards.

“A ‘C’ in my book means that a school is performing at average,” Meaux told the committee.

But the head of the Louisiana Federation for Children, former state senator Ann Duplessis of New Orleans, said in her mind a “C” grade is saying, “You can do better.”

“You can call these schools mediocre. You can call these schools middle-of-the-road. But the bottom line is these schools are not good enough,” Duplessis said, while voicing opposition to the voucher modification bill.

State Education Superintendent John White told committee members that 150,000 students currently attend “C”-rated schools, and this bill won’t make things better for them.

“It just denies a right to a hundred and fifty-thousand poor kids. It doesn’t help them,” White said. “All this bill does is say you no longer get to go to a school of your choice.”

Approximately 6700 students are participating in the voucher program this year. 358 of them come from “C”-rated schools. Edwards said that is unfair to students who are stuck attending schools that truly qualify as “failing”.

“That’s 358 seats that are not available to kids from D and F schools,” Edwards said, when urging passage of his bill.

Members of the House Education Committee voted 10 to 6 to give the voucher program modification bill an “F”-- as in “fail” to advance.

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