Louisiana policymakers enacted in 2012 a law to allow public school students in schools rated as C, D or F schools to receive a tuition certificate to attend a nonpublic school of their choice. A similar law was enacted in 2008 for New Orleans students to escape failing schools.
It would seem by allowing only those students in failing or mediocre schools to receive the certificates would imply the purpose was to offer these students a better educational opportunity. Right? That’s right. And initially that’s what Louisiana education leaders and policymakers said the program would do.
But when people questioned the academic success of those New Orleans students and realized those students fared no better than their public school counterparts. The pitch to parents, and the public, switched. At that point the messaging around the program changed to imply the program would offer parents a greater choice about the education their students received. As Louisiana State Superintendent of Education John White said, “parents should be able to choose the right school for their children.”
Despite the fallout, that approach won.
The result? Parents submitted applications for more than 10,000 students for the approximate 6,000 slots allocated for the program.