On the last day of their legislative session, Louisiana passed a funding plan for schools that includes school vouchers that can be used to pay tuition at religious schools.
What’s ironic is that the Islamic School of Greater New Orleans has applied to be included in the voucher program. I’m looking forward to seeing religious conservatives try to explain how it is OK for taxpayer money to be used to fund Christian schools, but not schools for other religions.
The mind boggles.
On the plus side this may force them to implement some sort of vetting process for qualifying schools.
I just hope the vetting process doesn’t let them somehow limit it to Christian schools.
What strikes me about this is that the legislation is designed to phase out public schools altogether, and as you’ve hinted at IK, a large number of schools in Louisiana that will be taking new students are Christian. So, my question is, if a Muslim school is nit allowed to take part in this, where will the children from Muslim homes go? Christian institutions?
Please keep us up to date on this.
As these voucher programs become more prevalent, I wonder if their underlying intent (to shift taxpayer dollars to religious organizations) will bite them in the ass. Private schools have always held an advantage by not being required to accept every student, but with taxpayer dollars subsidizing their tuition, how long will it be before these legally-allowed discrimination policies are challenged in court and the some of the elitist schools regret the whole idea (when they are awash with the great unwashed)?
Jeff (and Sammy), you are assuming that the people pushing this legislation are actually thinking.
As long as the teachers at the Muslim schools aren’t unionized, what’s the problem?
I like the concept of school vouchers. I don’t like the way places like Louisiana try to implement them.
Whether you consider yourself liberal or conservative (or none of the above) any rational analysis will show that our public school system is in slow but steady decline while the private schools are expensive and problematic. This is why home schooling is on the rise, but that’s not a good answer either – most home schoolers are either rich or religious extremists and that doesn’t make for a broad solution.
School vouchers, in THEORY, could help address this by giving more parents more choices and by introducing more competition. The main issue I see is that without strong support systems and some serious oversight, school vouchers will just rapidly accelerate the polarization of education and make things even worse.
I don’t think either party has a good answer for the education challenge. Teachers unions that prevent the termination of bad teachers at the expense of good ones don’t help, and buerocrats that siphon money away from children don’t help either.
Maybe we should restart that education start up discussion, IK 🙂
St Tammany Parish School Board (my home parish) voted a few weeks back to not implement this law in their parish 12-1. They are the only parish in Louisiana where the schools are rated no less than B (Covington, if I’m not mistaken).
The parish itself is mainly more well-to-do citizens (read: upper middle class to rich white folk with big houses) and thus mostly conservative (2008 saw the parish voting for Huckabee in the Primaries if I recall). Their argument against it though is they have a successful tax-funded public school system. I suspect part of it is they don’t want to change it, because it allows the lesser well-to-do folk (poorer folk from Lacombe/Madisonville) begin to creep in to SSA and St. Paul’s.
I’ll keep you guys up to date on this on the ground, as much as I can, my girlfriend works at the Capitol and I have an earful each time she comes home 😀
A little history, it was the private religious schools that were behind the public schools for a long time because the wave of emigration had so many kids as second language learners and the church schools in ethnic communities took those kids in got them up to speed and they then integrated into the community at large. Now the perception is that public schools are behind. Really the public schools are now the schools getting SLL kids up to speed and testing, along with really silly types of “reform” efforts make the stories of failing schools actually disconnected from what really happens day to day.
Here in Douglas County, Colorado the voucher push is heavily funded from outside the county and state. A very successful public system is being used as an experiment to get vouchers and eliminate unions. Interesting how our board is “unpaid” but all this coordination and effort including lawyers is being paid for from somewhere.