public school

School Turnaround Funds Repurposed

Mar 14, 2013

Federal funds dedicated to the turnaround of struggling Louisiana public schools have been repurposed.

The state Department of Education is using $5 million to issue grants to conceive new schools and allow high-performing schools to take on more students.

Almost 200,000 students are attending schools rated D or F. State Supt. John White said traditional public school systems that have been getting turnaround money are not drawing down that number.

“The pace of change has just not been fast enough for us not to consider a new path,” White said.  

Late Thursday night, the state house passed a bill that would allow public school dollars to be used to send students from low-income families attending failing schools to private schools instead. The legislation, which is a cornerstone of Governor Bobby Jindal's education reform plan, could hit the Senate floor this week.

The voucher program is modeled in part after a program in Florida, which was the first state to try vouchers on a large scale a decade ago.

David Figlio, a professor of education, social policy, and economics at Northwestern University in Illinois, has been studying Florida's program since its inception.

He was skeptical at first.