The Jindal education reforms include a huge voucher program that had rightwing choice advocates jumping for joy and supporters of public schools trembling. More than half the students in the state are eligible for vouchers, about 380,000 children.
But not so fast. It turns out that there are only a few thousand seats available in the state’s private and religious schools. Maybe new ones will open, but at present the voucher program looks like a mouse rather than an elephant.
Schools have the authority to decide if they want voucher students, and some politely say no. Others are full. Some don’t want students with disabilities (of 1,800 students in New Orleans who now use vouchers to go to private schools, only TWO are special-education students). (http://www.theind.com/news/10546-voucher-participation-list-pending).
Some of Jindal’s local critics predicted months ago that the real threat to public education was charters, not vouchers. Charter AU theorizers will be set up in every parish and will collect a commission for every student who leaves public school to enter a privately-managed charter.
Every dollar that goes to either vouchers or charters will come right out of the public school’s budget. This is a zero-sum game.