Just when it seemed Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) school voucher scheme couldn’t get much worse, it got a little worse.
This week, the Jindal administration said it would release materials detailing the vetting process for the 119 voucher schools receiving public funding, nearly all of which are religious, but not until after the school year begins. Why? Louisiana Superintendent John White has struggled to come up with an answer, though many believe it’s because the state didn’t have a vetting process and never came up with any standards of accountability.
After initial tales ofschools teaching antediluvian creationism and methods for preparing for the Rapture — including at least one school that discriminates based on religion and sexual orientation — it was reported that the Light City Christian Academy, located in New Orleans, had been approved for 80 students this fall, raking approximately $364,000 in state funds.
The school is not the only Christian institution that will be receiving state monies, but it is, thus far, the only one helmed by a man who says he “wears the mantle of an Apostle and Prophet.”Apostle Leonard Lucas, a one-term state representative, has been the subject of recent profilingsfor his charitable ventures, many of which are listed as “Not in Good Standing” by the Louisiana Secretary of State.
Should Light City meet the minimum voucher standards over the first year — that is, if they receive at least a state-issued grade of D-minus — they are eligible for an additional 83 students, which, if granted, would jump the K-12 school’s size approximately 400 percent from its 2011-12 total.
To reiterate what we discussed a few months ago, this has always been one of the key problems voucher proponents couldn’t resolve. The basic framework is easy enough to follow: (1) identify which public schools are underperforming; (2) give some of the students at those schools tuition money for private schools; (3) watch those kids’ test scores improve thanks to the unproven wonders of private education; and (4) wait for the struggling public schools to get better with less money and fewer smart children.
Aside from the faulty assumptions and serious constitutional questions surrounding giving tax dollars to religious ministries, there’s the basic question of accountability.
Jindal and other voucher supporters want to test public schools to identify which are the best and worst, but they don’t want to test private schools – at all. They don’t bother to consider who’s running the schools, whether they’re qualified to teach children, or even what the curricula looks like. How would anyone know public funds are being well spent? They wouldn’t. How would anyone know if the students are benefiting? They wouldn’t know that, either.
How would anyone know the private schools have good enough teachers and a strong enough curriculum to deserve tax dollars in the first place? That’d be a mystery, too.
No standards, no accountability, no oversight. It’s the mantra of voucher advocates, and it’s a problem that won’t go away.