School Choice The New Orleans School Voucher Program


Before Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans in 2005, Orleans Parish public schools were failing miserably. After the storm shut down the public school system completely, there was little reason to be optimistic.

But then something amazing happened.

The state of Louisiana took control over most of the schools in the district and has been chartering those schools ever since. This fall, more than 70 percent of the students in New Orleans will attend charter schools. (Check out's Katrina's Silver Lining to learn more about the New Orleans charter school revolution.)

And then in 2008, Louisiana enacted the Student Scholarship for Educational Excellence Program, a pilot voucher program designed to allow students in failing schools to attend private schools in the area.

The result: more competition and more choices for parents.

This spring, went to New Orleans and spoke with Shree Medlock of the Black Alliance for Educational Options and folks at the Conquering Word Christian Academy to learn more about the city's new voucher program.

Approximately 6.20 minutes. Produced by Paul Feine; shot by Alex Manning and Dan Hayes; edited by Alex Manning.

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  1. School vouchers are just about taking money from public schools so that parents can selfishly get their children a better education.

    The public teachers union unfluence will soon rise out of the depths of Lake Pontchartrain and retake its rightful place as the arbiter of Louisiana children’s future!

    1. Don’t worry, with Obama in the White House the education of Louisiana’s children is safe. He’ll take care of this little problem just like he ensured the future of Washington DC’s children.

  2. What does this have to do with the mosque? I’m confused…

    1. That made me lol!

  3. Where do these kids stand on gay marriage or the mosque?

    1. Are you saying there’s going to be gay marriages at the NYC Mosque? That’s even worse than I imagined…

      1. It’s like 911 times one million! Nobody even knows how bad it will be…

        1. Teh gays have won!

  4. It is true that seeking the best education for one’s child is an act of selfishness on the part of the parent. It is also selfish on behalf of the child. I endorse both with enthusiasm.

    1. +1

    2. Yes, well, don’t let that be known or the charter program will be shut down immediately.

      “How dare you want a good education for your children!”

  5. It just doesnt make any sense at all dude. Seriously.


    1. Then read it again, bot.

    2. Here let me explain it in a way you can understand.


  6. I’m sure the NEA and other teachers groups are sweating over this program. Of course, the fac that students are doing better in safer environments is irrelevant. What’s important is that we keep the teachers mployed and their pension funds solvent. After that, everything else will fall into place.

  7. Conquering Word Christian Academy

    Is that one of Muad’dib’s ecumenical outreach schools?

  8. I highly recommend to everyone to look up the Montessori (hope that’s right) Method of teaching. It was featured in the Objective Standard last month.

    Basically, it makes white kids as smart as Asian highschoolers. Yeah.

    1. I’ve heard of these and they seem to be cool with the crunchy, Subaru-driving set of Austin.

    2. Yeah, but can they dunk?

  9. While I don’t think anyone can or should dispute that U.S public education, on average has been a poor performer; or that this ‘evolution’ of education in New Orleans seems to have brought positive results; I would contend the broad-based condemnation of pubic education in an ideological manner is flawed, at best.

    If one were to compare the typical U.S. charter school or private school (not the best, but the majority) with the public school systems of Germany, France, Japan or South Korea, one would find a less than stellar performer.

    Clearly then it is not merely that government running schools equals bad schools.

    U.S. schools as a whole have been less that stellar with inner-city districts being the bottom of the barrel within that group.

    But yet even in the U.S. you can find high-performance public schools and private schools with dismal results.

    I would contend these are functions of a lot of different things, most of which have little to do with government operation per se; and more to do with the public.

    The typical school year in the U.S. is around 180 days, Canada 190, Germany 200-205, Japan 210

    That right there makes a big difference. U.S. school days tend to be shorter.

    U.S. teachers tend to be paid a lot less than in most countries and as a result fewer top quality prospects are attracted to or retained by the profession.

    A typical Cdn High School Teacher makes about $70,000USD per year. A typical U.S. HS Teacher would be lucky to make $20,000 less.

    No surprise then that quality staff are harder to come by.

    I would contend that high quality public schools (most notably those in the U.S.) illustrate that in a given area, if parents have high expectations of both the school and their children, most often the results will be favourable.

    In communities where parents are disinterested or have come to cynically expect no better than mediocre schooling, they get about what they expect.

    By all means let their be some choice, and to be sure, let their be excellence, but there should not be a wholesale demonization of government as this reduced libertarian principle to jingoistic fodder.

    1. U.S. teachers tend to be paid a lot less than in most countries and as a result fewer top quality prospects are attracted to or retained by the profession.

      A typical Cdn High School Teacher makes about $70,000USD per year. A typical U.S. HS Teacher would be lucky to make $20,000 less.

      So what grade do you teach?

    2. “condemnation of pubic education”

      I would be surprised if you could find anyone on this site who condemned “pubic” education.

  10. Its interesting that you state what sound like good reasons why schooling in the US sucks, but then skip over the fact that the school system in the US is almost entirely a government product, to conclude that we shouldn’t blame the government.

    One interesting potential datapoint, a comparison of US charter/private schools with overseas public schools, is, well, data-free.

    1. I didn’t say government shouldn’t be blamed. Indeed, those who run shoddy schools should be held accountable.

      My point was that those overseas schools that outperform U.S. schools are largely public, gov’t owned and operated in their country.

      Thus establishing that it is not the mere fact of government running a school which makes it bad.

      If the German government or the South Korean government can run schools that produce superior results, there is no reason, to assume it is impossible in the United States.

      Rather, while not excusing inept administration in the least, nor foreclosing the idea of school choice, I was pointing out that schools can and should be expected to excel under government, in the U.S. as everywhere else.

      Parents simply have to demand a longer school year, a longer school day, a higher passing average, (ie. kids get a pass at 60 or 70, not 50). They (parents) need to tell State, and local education officials as well as those directly in their local school, that high standards, and high expectations breed success, and that indifference is not an option. That means for parents too, who should be expected not to miss parent-teacher interviews, nor fail to check report cards, nor tolerate truancy.

      But if the public just shrugs, and assumes the system is unfixable, there won’t be any rush to reform.

  11. Used to live in and around N.O.
    preKat there were a ton of private schools. The system was so bad, even some of the poorest folks found ways to get their kids into a private school. There were more private ones than public by a large margin.

    Even the state run homes were sending their wards to private schooling.

  12. Democrats hate school choice, not so much because they like teachers’ unions but because they want there to be as many poor, uneducated, government dependent people as possible and a good education is the key to ending all of that. Union support is just a bonus 🙂

  13. One interesting potential datapoint, a comparison of US charter/private schools with overseas public schools, is, well, data-free

  14. A typical Cdn High School Teacher makes about $70,000USD per year. A typical U.S. HS Teacher would be lucky to make $20,000 less

  15. more competition and more choices for parents reasonably

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