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Report says Jindal’s voucher plan in need of work

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposal to expand statewide a school voucher program that was piloted in New Orleans in 2008 needs a number of revisions if it’s to be as successful as the governor says it will be. That’s according to a new study from the New Orleans-based research organization Bureau of Governmental Research. “In theory, school vouchers present an attractive option on the school choice menu. However, building an effective program depends on getting five elements right: student eligibility, school eligibility, school accountability, public information and financial structure,” reads the report. “Without the proper framework and safeguards, a voucher program will not live up to its promises and could do damage to public schools. Unfortunately, the statewide program’s structure suffers from serious defects.”

Among the defects the study identifies: The proposal’s student eligibility parameters are too broad; the school eligibility parameters for private schools are too lax; there are no academic accountability provisions; and the financial structure of the program could hurt public schools. BGR makes several recommendations to improve those aspects of Jindal’s proposal in its complete 20-page report, which you can see here. In response to the report, state Superintendent of Education John White says, “Based on what’s being presented, we believe the proposal has the appropriate financial and academic safeguards.” —Steve Sanoski

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