School Choice

Groundbreaking Louisiana School Choice Bill Would Rescue Kids From 'F' Schools

Louisiana is now set to become the first state to extend school choice to all students trapped in failing public schools.

|

Bobby Jindal
Gage Skidmore (Wikimedia Commons)

After a pivotal vote in the legislature, Louisiana is now set to become the first state to extend school choice to all students trapped in failing public schools. Education reformers just have to wait for Gov. Bobby Jindal's signature.

Today, the state legislature passed Senate Bill 61, known as the Louisiana Public School Choice Act. If signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal, the bill would allow parents of students in schools graded "D" or "F"to enroll their child in any public school that is graded "C" or above, beginning in the 2014–2015 school year. Parents throughout the state would no longer be limited by arbitrary school district lines that force their children to attend failing schools.

Louisiana has already made a name for itself as the Silicon Valley of education reform with the state's Recovery School District (RSD)—the first all-charter school district in the nation, where kids enroll in the public charter school of their choice. Signing Senate Bill 61 into law would further move the needle for school choice, making Louisiana the first state to enact a statewide open enrollment policy.

In 2003 then-Governor Kathleen Blanco signed Act 9 into law, giving the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) the legal authority to take over failing schools and place them in the newly created state-run Recovery School District. After Hurricane Katrina devastated much of the state in 2005, the threshold for what constituted a "failing school" was lowered, giving BESE even greater jurisdiction to move more failing schools into the RSD.

New Orleans Parish was the district most impacted by the new law, and 114 chronically low-performing schools were shifted into the RSD to be taken over by non-profit and charter school providers. Only 17 schools remained under the control of the Orleans Parish School Board—an education authority overseeing abysmally underperforming schools and suffering from a long record of fraud and corruption that yielded several FBI criminal indictments.

Since then, the Orleans Parish School Board has reduced the number of employees in its central office from 1,300 before hurricane Katrina to only 60, allowing more money to flow directly to schools.

New Orleans now has the largest concentration of charter school students in the nation: Over 90 percent of students attend a public charter school of their choice. And as of 2013, New Orleans implemented citywide open enrollment for both traditional public and charter schools operating under the RSD and Orleans Parish School Board using a single computerized system called OneApp.

The district has shown tremendous gains in academic performance and the percentage of students enrolled in "F" schools has improved from nearly 75 percent in the 2004-2005 school year to only 2 percent this past school year.

Just last week, the RSD closed the last traditional public school under its jurisdiction, making it the first all-charter district in the nation. That means Louisiana is the first state to have a school district with open enrollment where money follows the children to the schools of their choice, and schools have complete autonomy over how they operate. In exchange, schools are accountable to the needs of students and parents.

Signing the Louisiana Public School Choice Act into law would allow traditional public schools to have the same open enrollment policies as public charter schools. Also, state and federal dollars would follow eligible students to the school system that they choose, creating an incentive for schools to attract these students and the money following them.

Louisiana has been a national leader for school choice, and the academic results in places like New Orleans have proven that these policies work. If Senate Bill 61 is signed into law—which seems very likely, given Jindal's support for the issue—it will further expand options for children and families and empower parents to choose the educational experience that best suits their children's needs.

NEXT: Bowe Bergdahl: What the Left, Right, and Taliban Have To Say

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. If Senate Bill 61 is signed into law…it will further expand options for children and families and empower parents to choose the educational experience that best suits their child’s needs.

    I doubt those parents have advanced degrees in education or child development. So how the hell would they know what’s best for their children?

    1. I know that was sarcasm, but it made my blood boil anyway.

    2. I doubt they have advanced degrees in nutrition, either. So how could they possibly know what they should feed their children?

        1. Was that party at Neverland Ranch?

      1. Have you seen the little fat fuckers lately?

    3. Hugh just went to see Divergent, I see.

      1. I keep hoping that some day Kate Winslet will be in a movie that’s worth watching.

        1. You didn’t like Heavenly Creatures? Man, you are hard to please, Hugh. Unlike your mom.

          1. The only Peter Jackson movie I’ve seen is King Kong, and that was enough to tell me not to see any more.

            1. Well, that’s his worst movie by far. I love Peter Jackson and I hated King Kong. You should try his best movie.

              1. The plot summary couldn’t hold my attention past the third sentence. I can’t imagine the movie itself would do any better.

                1. Stop being a little bitch, Hugh. That plot summary is terrible. It’s a visual movie (like most movies!) and makes perfect sense when you watch it.

                  Do you like Army of Darkness? Shaun of the Dead? Idle Hands (if you say “no” to Jessica Alba’s breakout movie, you should be shot)? Street Trash? C.H.U.D.? Because if you do, you will like Braindead.

                  1. Army of Darkness is good. Shaun of the Dead was okay but not worth seeing twice. Haven’t seen the others. Horror movies are generally pretty dull.

                    1. Yeah, but Braindead has the story of a young man whose insane possessive mother won’t let him go…even after she’s turned into a disgusting zombie. You should identify perfectly with that.

      2. What an awful movie that was. It makes the Twilight sequels must-sees in comparison.

      3. Wife and I went to see Divergent. My wife wanted to see it because she read the books. She liked it. I didn’t. Zero character development which made any emotional scene just seem silly to me. I was pretty bored by it. Of course my wife already had all that back story so she wasn’t missing it.

    4. How? BECAUSE they don’t have advanced degrees in education or child development. That’s how.

    5. You say that in jest, but here in good old Knoxville, TN our State rep. Gloria Johnson is holding rallies against charter schools, where everybody who meets the kids has to meet government muster. Plus the other permission stamps required for operating a school.

  2. It would be useful to know how LA managed to implement this in the face of what had to be furious D and union opposition. Was it unique to the circumstances of Katrina or is it something that might be replicated elsewhere?

    1. That’s the delicious part of it all. School district predominately black and a governor of Indian decent.

      Now, play that race card.

      1. Oh but he’s sooo religious haven’t you heard…

  3. Just more evidence of how backward “those people” are down south. This could never happen in NY or MA.

    They’ve signed their own death warrant as a society. May they drown in the idiocracy they create as a result of this abomination.

    /progderp

    1. You’ve read Diane Ratvich’s thoughts on the matter too, I’ve see.

  4. Parents throughout the state would no longer be limited by arbitrary school district lines that force their children to attend failing schools.

    Which is great, but who foots the bill for transporting all these kids to hither and yon?

    Two steps forward and one step back.

    1. We will have to see. I work in Fulton Co., which offers bus service for south county kids to attend north county schools. Some parents drive their kids, while others use the metro and then take the public buses for the last leg of their journey.

      Where there is a will, there is a way.

    2. That’s a pretty tiny step back. Your green eyeshades are acting as blinders.

    3. I’d personally throw in for a tank or two of gas.

    4. Which is great, but who foots the bill for transporting all these kids to hither and yon?

      Uber.

      Oh wait…

      1. No shit. School starts at 8 AM. Have your brat there.

        Wait. Did early schools provide mules??

        1. No, we used to walk twenty miles. Uphill both ways.

  5. Has LA opted out of Common Core? School choice is great when there’s an actual choice.

    1. As far as I know, only TX, VA, AL, NB, and IN haven’t adopted CCSS.

      1. Thanks for this. CC has the potential to erase gains in school choice in LA by wiping out real choice in the quality of schools. So much for the “laboratories of democracy.”

      2. VA

        I accept all credit for this thing that I just learned was true a minute ago.

        1. Prepping for a Senate run?

  6. I like Rand Paul a great deal but…I am open minded to President Jindal.

    We talk a lot about how Team Red = Team Blue but…at the state level, this just ain’t so no mo’. Team Red is pulling solidly ahead in state-level governance. Not all red states are good, but all states with solid reform are red with the exceptions of WA and perhaps CO.

    1. You know not of what you speak. Take it from me, Jindal sucks. He has done nothing to lower taxes, regulatory burdens on small businesses or anything pro middle class / business for that matter. Jindal was a total, do-nothing waste.

      1. “You know not of what you speak. Take it from me, Jindal sucks. ”

        Why should I take it from you? Dude has punched a lot of prog interests in the throat. This seems an odd forum to argue he has done nothing.

        1. Because I live here, own a business here, own a house here and pay shit loads of taxes here. The LA Dept of Revenue has become totally vicious under his rule. Jindal ran Medicaid here so he is NOT a prof fighter. He didn’t lower our insane tax rate and he has not relaxed our idiotic business laws. And he has failed to attract business development and has lost major investment I both Mississippi and Alabama.

          Jindal has taken the don’t rock the boat path. He sucks.

          1. Okay maybe not Jindal but there is a bevy of really good reformist GOP governors. I’ve heard ‘Paul or nothing’ here too often that is silly and reminiscent of the Obama cult.

      2. Jindal is a religious conservative, not a libertarian but he is ok on some issues.

        1. He’s pro gun, that’s about it. He is not for low taxes. Or business development. His expertise was in Medicaid and Medicare. He was our health dept guy before becoming gov. I would not vote for him again for anything. He’s also very secretive and avoids transparent govt like Obama does.

    2. I’m leaning that way too. At some point we need to be willing to say someone agrees with us a high enough percentage of the time to back them. I’m not sure if Jindal is it, but he’s a lot closer than most politicians.

      1. Unless Jindal implements the entire set of libertarian principles into law he’s a loser from the get go. We’re waiting for a superman and will settle for nothing less.

        He couldn’t singlehandedly turn Louisiana from a backward corrupt state into Libertopia in a few years, so we continue to await our Messiah.

        1. So, tell me why I should vote for him? He’s great on school choice. So what else? I can find a lot of TEAM BLUE politicians with one redeeming feature too. But I aint voting for them.

          1. Vote for the Messiah, who should be here any day.

          2. [ He’s great on school choice. So what else? ]

            Probably the single most influential factor that produces voters who know no history, no Constitution, and totally embrace sucking the state tit. If he did nothing else but bring about school choice he’d rank second to Madison perhaps.

        2. “Unless Jindal implements the entire set of libertarian principles into law he’s a loser from the get go. We’re waiting for a superman and will settle for nothing less.”

          How does this contribute to intelligent conversation in any way?

          1. I get tired of saying that “the perfect is the enemy of the good”, so I try sarcasm now and then.

          2. “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” is often a valid point to make around here.

  7. But if parents can choose which schools their children attend, how will we ensure student bodies are racially integrated? Jindal is compromising decades of successful social engineering!

    1. I would guess that any white people still living in New Orleans send their kids to private schools. But it will be interesting to see how much more or less segregated the schools get with this program.

      1. The racial balance didn’t change after Katrina, but NO proper is mostly black.

  8. [ the Orleans Parish School Board has reduced the number of employees in its central office from 1,300 before hurricane Katrina to only 60,..]

    All you need to know. why this will be an uphill fight across the nation.

    1. Looks like we need a Hurricane America then.

      1. Too late. That’s already my wrestling name.

        1. ROCK, FLAG, AND EAGLE

  9. the bill would allow parents of students in schools graded “D” or “F”to enroll their child in any public school that is graded “C” or above, beginning in the 2014?2015 school year.

    This is clearly racist, sexist, and probably homophobic.

    1. Probably Homophobic would be a great band name.

      1. “Probably Homophobic would be a great band name.”

        First album name: Boobs, or maybe.

  10. Its about time someone rescued children from fucking schools.

  11. But who will rescue schools from ‘F’ Kids?

    1. Unions?

    2. Didn’t use to be that hard….

      Back when I was a wee lad, there were always a couple of nonperfomers who were not in class in September. Don’t really know what happened to them; don’t really care. It worked.

    3. Drones?

    4. This.

      F schools aren’t F schools for some mysterious reason.

      1. Their F schools because of bad teachers, not an overabundance of retards like you.

  12. I eagerly await the unprecedented intellectual flowering to occur in Louisiana.

    1. So what will you do when it happens? Will you come back to this forum and admit you were wrong and a dumbass? Or will you just slink away quietly and never be seen again like the bitch that you are?

      1. The good thing about being on the side of evidence and not being a shameless corporate whore is that the outcomes tend to come out as I predict. But if Shreveport becomes the next Cambridge I will stand corrected. That’s what people who rely on evidence do.

        1. The evidence is already clear that Charters kick ass. The nice thing about being libertarian is watching wormy pieces of shit like you squirm as your world gets taken apart.

        2. I predict Tony will move the goalposts.

    2. Intellectual flowering needn’t happen to make this a success. Inasmuch as 75% of the public schools received a grade of “F”, if only 50% of the charters score 50% childrens lives will improve.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.