BATON ROUGE, La., April 5, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Louisiana will be home to one of the nation's largest school voucher programs once Gov. Bobby Jindal signs legislation that recently passed his state's legislature. Today, by a vote of 60-42, the Louisiana House of Representatives approved Gov. Jindal's voucher expansion, which passed the Senate last night 24-15.
"This is a momentous day for the families of Louisiana," State Superintendent of Education John White said. "All students deserve a fair chance in life, and that begins with the opportunity to attend a high-quality school. These policy changes are aligned with that central belief, and Gov. Jindal and state lawmakers have demonstrated a clear commitment to prioritize the educational rights of Louisiana's next generation above all else."
The expansion of the Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program will allow low- and middle-income students in Louisiana public schools graded "C," "D," or "F" by the state accountability system to receive government-funded vouchers to attend private schools. Currently, that option is available only to children in New Orleans and students with special needs in eligible parishes.
Last month, a poll commissioned by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, an organization supportive of school vouchers, found that 60 percent of Louisiana voters surveyed were in favor of Gov. Jindal's plan to provide vouchers to more families statewide.
"In passing this measure, lawmakers listened to their constituents who are demanding high-quality education options for Louisiana families," Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation, said. Enlow's organization was founded by Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, who first developed the idea of school vouchers. "This measure puts control of kids' educations where it belongs—in the hands of their parents. We applaud Gov. Jindal, Superintendent White, and the legislative leaders who are making Louisiana a lead state in putting students first."
Currently, 18 states, including Louisiana, and Washington, D.C., provide some type of private school choice either through vouchers or the tax code. With more than half of its student population now voucher-eligible, the magnitude of Louisiana's voucher program rivals only Indiana's, which enacted a similar statewide program last year.
"Louisiana just opened the doors of opportunity to thousands of children," Kevin Kane, president of Louisiana's Pelican Institute, said. "By expanding school choice, our K-12 education system will be more effective, innovative, and fiscally responsible. Students and parents will be the immediate beneficiaries, but, in the long run, Louisiana as a whole will prosper with a better educated population."
Senate Bill 597 was sponsored by Sen. Conrad Appel (R-Metairie); House Bill 976 was co-sponsored by Rep. Steve Carter (R-Baton Rouge) and House Speaker Chuck Kleckley (R-Lake Charles). With the passage of those bills, Louisiana joins several other states this year that have passed new private school choice programs or expanded existing ones.
About the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice
The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and nonpartisan organization dedicated solely to advancing Milton and Rose Friedman's vision of school choice for all children. Through research, education, and outreach, the Friedman Foundation promotes school choice as the most effective and equitable way to improve the quality of K-12 education in America.
SOURCE The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice