The U.S. Department of Justice is suing the state of Louisiana in New Orleans federal court over its private school voucher program, called the Louisiana Scholarship Program. The suit targets public school districts that are currently under federal desegregation orders, claiming that the voucher program is impeding the desegregation process. In the school districts affected by the lawsuit, they could only assign students to private schools if a federal judge agrees to it.
Yesterday, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled 2-to-1 to lift the injunction that halted the Douglas County Schools Choice Scholarship program. This is a huge victory for parents and students. Launched in 2011, the pilot program allows parents to take a portion of per-pupil revenue and use it toward the private school of their choice. 500 families were selected through a lottery to participate and awarded about $4,500 per child, totaling $300,000 in public funds.
Today marks the beginning of National School Choice Week. This third annual event will run through Feb. 2 and celebrates current school choice options including charters, private schools, online education and home schooling. It also stresses the work that still must be done to bring these options to all children and their parents across the country.
Yesterday StudentsFirst released its State Policy Report Card for 2013 to “reveal more about what states are doing to improve the nation’s public education system so that it serves all students well and puts each and every one of them on a path toward success.” StudentsFirst gave each state an overall grade based on three criteria; elevating the teaching profession, empowering parents, and spending wisely and governing well. You can see the results for all states here.
On Friday, the 19th Judicial District Court ruled the funding mechanism of Louisiana’s school choice voucher program unconstitutional, placing the academic future of nearly 5,000 students in jeopardy. Louisiana’s voucher program was launched during the 2008-09 school year and allows students from low-income families in under-performing schools to enroll in private schools of their choice.
While flipping through this weekend’s edition of the Wall Street Journal, I came across a great piece about the success of charter schools in Harlem (read full article here). New York City’s progress reports for all of its 1,230 schools showed that charter schools have out-performed the rest of the city’s district-run schools by a wide margin. According to the article, eight of the top 11 elementary and middle schools are charters, four of which are located in Harlem. Although those who oppose charter schools, and school choice generally, would attribute this success to the way charters “cherry pick” the best students in the district, it is simply not true. Charter schools, including those in Harlem, run “lotteries” to select their students; it is really a matter of luck if a child wins a spot in the charter school.
I graduated from the University of Denver with a B.A. in History (minor in Political Science) and the University of Wyoming with a Master of Public Administration. I am an experienced copywriter and content manager. I am also a former intern/research associate for the Education Policy Center at the Independence Institute in Denver, Colorado and have previously blogged for National School Choice Week.