The editorial criticizing the 2014 school voucher ranking and scorecard from The Center for Education Reform misrepresents our sound methodology used to gauge both the design and implementation of voucher programs, as some sort of ideologically purity test (Under hood of bad score, Sept. 7).
Louisiana deserves praise for both the universal nature of its voucher program for low-income students and those in failing schools, in addition to having a program that caters to students with special needs.
However, the state’s infringement on private school autonomy “the same schools parents consciously seek out because of their separation from failing systems” is not in line with best practices that facilitate student and school participation in choice programs.
Contrary to the editorial’s claims, a closer look at the report reveals voucher programs were analyzed based on their ability to allow the greatest amount of students access vouchers to attend the school of their choosing. The question of whether preserving school autonomy comports with some ideological subset is irrelevant.
To that end, there are regulations such as school accreditation, criminal background checks for those wanting to work with young children, required qualifications for special needs educators and student achievement reporting, that are reasonable terms to follow for any school, public or private. Our report found that Louisiana exceeds these types of requirements to the point where school participation becomes burdensome and innovation at the classroom level can become stifled. This is a far cry from a completely unregulated arrangement that doesn’t hold schools accountable.
Well-designed voucher programs provide the truest form of accountability in that taxpayer dollars are entrusted to the taxpayer, as opposed to arbitrary per-pupil allotments being hemorrhaged into a system that is ineffective for far too many Louisiana students.
president, The Center for Education Reform