One standard needed for voucher schools

Published 9:51 am Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Students mean money when it comes to the public school system.

The more students a system has, the more money a district receives in Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) funding, a formula Louisiana adopts annually to allocate funds to school districts on a per-pupil basis.

Unfortunately, according to St. John the Baptist Parish public school leaders, the local system and public districts across the state have been under assault from the Louisiana Scholarship Program.

Sometimes known as vouchers, the program has led more than 360 students out of St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools since 2012.

The Louisiana Department of Education says the program empowers low-income families to send their child to the school of their choice.

To be eligible for a Scholarship, students must have a family income that does not exceed 250 percent of the federal poverty guidelines and must be entering kindergarten or enrolled in a public school with a C, D or F grade.

Many public school interests wish the program would go away, while others simply ask for schools who accept students through the Louisiana Scholarship Program to be held to the same standards as the schools where they originated.

Underperforming public schools, and the Districts that run them, led to Louisiana’s move to the voucher system that exists today. That’s not changing, and those who fight for it are probably just wasting their time.

However, it’s extremely reasonable to ask those schools that accept students from public schools performing at a C, D or F grade (and, therefore also accept their MFP money) to be held to the same standards.

It’s not a request that benefits the public schools. In fact, it actually gives parents caught in the education dilemma meaningful information from which to base their school choice decision.

If the money is the same, the system standards should be, as well.