Meaux responds to state’s voucher program

Debbie Meaux

Baton Rouge – Leaders of the Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) applaud a recent legislative audit that reveals several telling truths about the state’s controversial school voucher program.
The report, issued by Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera, found that there aren’t enough safeguards in place to ensure that schools participating in the program spend public money properly, raising questions about whether or not the nonpublic schools that participate in the program are academically acceptable. LAE President Debbie Meaux said her group agrees with the findings.
“Accountability among voucher schools has always been lacking,” Meaux said, who is a former Kaplan High teacher. “We’ve pointed this issue out time and time again, but our concerns fell upon deaf ears.”
The state voucher program diverts much-needed resources away from traditional public schools to fund tuitions for students to attend “higher-performing” schools of choice, but due to the autonomy of the nonpublic schools participating in the program, there is no way to determine whether these schools are a better option.
“Private schools have almost complete freedom with regard to how they operate, who, what, and how they teach, how/if they measure student achievement, how they manage their finances, and what they are required to disclose to parents and the public. If these schools are going to be funded by Louisiana tax dollars, then taxpayers have a right to know if the schools are actually providing children with a better education,” Meaux said. “What we need to do is focus on adequately funding the institutions where the majority of Louisiana’s students learn and a majority of Louisiana’s students learn in public school classrooms.”
Meaux went on to point out that the voucher scheme is doing nothing more than subdividing the same pool of money — inadequate to begin with — into two separate systems, placing undue stress upon our public schools.
“Louisiana voters approved taxing themselves to better the public schools in their home parishes,” she said. “They were never asked to approve the funding of nonpublic schools.”
Meaux says the LAE will continue to follow this issue closely over the next few months; association leaders will deliberate on whether actions will be pursued in the 2014 Legislative Session. For more information, contact LAE Communications Specialist Ashley Davies at (504) 319-0846 or via email at ashley.davies@lae.org.

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