By Stephanie Simon
Summary by PEN Weekly Newsblast
"Louisiana is embarking on the nation’s boldest experiment in privatizing public education, with the state preparing to shift tens of millions in tax dollars to private industry, businesses owners, and church pastors to educate children, Stephanie Simon reports for Reuters. This fall, thousands of poor and middle-class Louisiana kids will get vouchers for the full cost of tuition at over 120 private schools across the state. The following year, students of any income will be eligible for mini-vouchers applicable to classes and apprenticeships not offered in traditional public schools. Every time a student receives a voucher of either type, his local public school will lose a portion of state funding.
"In Louisiana, Superintendent of Education John White said state officials have at one time or another visited all 120 schools in the voucher program and approved their curricula, including specific texts. The state plans more due diligence over the summer, including additional site visits to assess capacity. In general, White said he will leave it to principals to ensure curricula cover all necessary subjects, and to parents to judge quality. Private schools are not required to give state standardized tests, but starting next year, any student on a voucher will have to take the tests. Each private school must then report individual results to parents and aggregate results to the state, but there will be no formal consequences for poor results."