When asked about a fresh new policy proposal for the Republican party on "Fox News Sunday," Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal pushed education reform, a cause he has championed in his own state.
Jindal, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, was lauding the association's "America Next" program, saying the Republican Party needs to "win the war of ideas."
He said the Republican party doesn't have to change its principles, but the party needs fresh new policy positions. Education reform embodies a new cause for Republicans to take on as personal, he said.
Vouchers that allow children to transfer out of failing public schools and into private schools on the public's dime, new accountability measures, A-F grading systems for schools, dual enrollment programs and public-private partnerships that allow students to take courses from a host of providers are all new and successful ideas, he said.
But Jindal's implementation of education reform and some of those ideas in his own state has stirred up controversy and backlash.
Louisiana is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with the Department of Justice over the state's school voucher program. DOJ claims the program has harmed the federal desegregation efforts of schools.
The state also released its school performance scores last week, showing improvement and earning praise from officials, including state Superintendent John White. About 43 percent of schools received an A or B grade for the 2012-13 school year, compared to 36 percent during the previous school year. About 8 percent of Louisiana schools are currently considered failing, which is down from 12 percent.
But that grading system has come under fire from unions, whose members have said that giving letter grades to schools ignores individual school missions and doesn't account for school safety, the condition of the school facilities, the physical and emotional health of students, teacher retention rates and a host of other factors.
Jindal's route to public education reform has also culminated in the rollout of a program that pays for high school students to take classes from a number of providers in the private sector. The classes are for normal high school credit and are taught by nonprofits, for-profit companies, local colleges, unions and industry players like trade associations. The "Course Choice" program has earned scrutiny from legislators in other states and from teachers unions. Union leaders are afraid the program will take funds from traditional public schools and waste tax dollars on classes that might not prove rigorous enough.
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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc