New Orleans’ Kids get Vouchers

Tonight, more good school choice news for New Orleans.

In a major legislative success for Gov. Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana Senate voted 25-12 Wednesday for a bill that would let up to 1,500 low- to middle-income students in New Orleans attend private schools at taxpayer expense. Already approved by the House, the school voucher bill by Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans, needs one more routine vote in that body on Senate language changes before it goes to Jindal for his signature.

It looks like New Orleans is shaping up to fit Myron Lieberman’s conception in Public Education: An Autopsy of a three-sector education industry, where the K-12 education market consists of public schools, nonprofit schools, and schools for profit. From Education WeeK: Nearly 60 percent of the city’s 33,000 public school children attend 40 charter schools now, the highest percentage in any district. The number is likely to rise as several more charters open in the fall. Paul G. Vallas, the superintendent of the state-run Recovery School District, talks of giving the 33 schools he manages “charter-like” independence, with principals who will choose their own faculty members and manage their own budgets, and school-based committees that will help select principals. Only five schools still answer directly to the elected Orleans Parish school board that ran the district before the storm struck in August 2005. In the near future New Orleans will continue to see a decentralized system with students using vouchers for private schools, even more charters, and public schools that are also autonomous and decentralized where principals control their budgets and personnel.