The State Education Department in Louisiana has given approval to the New Living Word School in Ruston, Louisiana, to accept 315 voucher students. The school currently has 122 students, so if it can enroll its full complement of voucher students, it will nearly quadruple in size.
The New Living Word School will accept the largest number of voucher students in the state’s voucher program. The second largest number of seats is offered by the Upperroom Bible Church Academy in Orleans.
The New Living Word School does not have the facilities or the teachers for an additional 315 students, but that doesn’t matter to the state. The Rev. Jerry Baldwin, the school’s principal and chief pastor said the school would move forward “on faith” and would build new classrooms during the summer.
Instruction in the school is offered for 20-30 minutes each class on DVD, while ”the classroom teacher is on hand to manage the class, review homework, answer questions and give assignments.” This is Governor Bobby Jindal’s plan to reform education, remember?
The state education department doesn’t do site visits. All that is required for a school to gain acceptance to get public money is that it has state approval and does not discriminate by race.
And the money to enroll students in the New Living Word School and the Upperroom Bible Church Academy will be subtracted from the Minimum Foundation funding for public schools.
But there’s another problem, other than the loss of funds for public schools. Rev. Baldwin said that tuition would go up for existing students from its current $8,500.
But wouldn’t the families now paying $8,500 wonder why they should pay tuition at all if the state is willing to pay tuition for the new students? Maybe they should drop out of New Living Word, enroll in a public school for a year rated “D” or “F,” return to the religious school, and have the state pay their tuition. Why pay for a religious education if the state will pay for it? For a family with two children, that’s a huge saving, possibly $18,000 a year.