With little fanfare, Gov. John Bel Edwards' proposal to limit access to vouchers was rejected Thursday by the Senate Education Committee.
Five of the panel's seven members cast "no" votes.
The action marks the latest setback for the governor's education agenda, which was battered last year and has made little headway in 2017, even with a modest list of bills.
Gov. John Bel Edwards spelled out his public school legislative priorities Tuesday, includin…
Under current rules, families of kindergarten students are free to apply for a state-issued voucher if they meet income requirements.
The legislation, Senate Bill 13, would have limited the assistance to students who would otherwise attend a public school rated C, D or F, which is the rule for older students.
Donald Songy, education policy adviser for the governor, said the change would mean students in troubled schools would have a better chance of getting assistance when voucher recipients are drawn from a statewide lottery.
"I have a seen a lot of A-rated schools," said Songy, former superintendent of the Ascension Parish School District.
"I have never seen one with a poor kindergarten program," he told the committee. "I have never seen one with a mediocre kindergarten program. They all have excellent kindergarten programs."
Vouchers are state aid for students from low-income families to attend private schools.
Opponents said parents deserve the right to pick schools, even if they would otherwise attend one rated A or B.
"It is better for us to send our children to a school that best fits them," said Tonya Lacey. "Even if they are in an A school it may not be working for your child."
Earlier this month, state Superintendent of Education John White trumpeted the fact that Lou…
The measure was opposed by officials of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, Louisiana Federation of Children, Education's Next Horizon and the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools.
Brigitte Nieland, who follows public school issues for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, said polls show education is the top concern of state residents.
"Yet we sit here on a late Thursday afternoon fighting to take educational opportunities away from five year olds," Nieland said.
Even backers conceded the bill had little chance of winning committee approval.
Senate Education Committee Chairman Blade Morrish, R-Jennings, sponsor of the bill, said in the midst of the hearing that he doubted his plan would be endorsed.
Vouchers used to be limited to New Orleans.
In 2012 legislation to make them available statewide won legislative approval after being pushed by then Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Jindal and others contend vouchers give students and families a way out of troubled public schools.
Songy said vouchers were originally touted as a way for students to move out of academically deficient schools.
Critics of the aid say test results are often dismal among voucher students and the expense drains needed resources from Louisiana's public schools.