LFC Response to Times-Picayune article on the Louisiana Scholarship Program

Thousands of Louisiana families are benefiting from school choice options, which are now available to them. These choices, which include public charter schools, course choice, and tuition vouchers provided by the Louisiana Scholarship Program, provide options to parents who would otherwise have to send their children to failing schools.
The recent Times-Picayune article on the Louisiana Scholarship Program does not tell the whole story. We welcome and encourage the program and the schools who participate to be held accountable, but the debate about school choice should be open, honest and transparent. Yes, there are a number of schools in the program that are being sanctioned – that’s accountability in action – something that escaped our traditional public schools for far too long and as a result caused too many children to suffer negative consequences. This measure of accountability ensures that the program will continue to improve and provides the public with its intendant benefits. Educational choice works because ultimately the program is designed to only allow quality schools to serve students.
As a supporter of this initiative, we don’t make excuses, we expect and continue to strive for high standards and schools that will serve students who have suffered for far too long by an inadequate education system.
Last week, during National School Choice Week, parents across Louisiana and the nation spoke out about why school choice matters – they’re unhappy with the status quo. While high test scores are important to parents, they tell us they are pleased that their children are attending a safer school, a more conducive learning environment.
By design, students come to the Louisiana Scholarship Program from failing schools. Many are two or three years behind their peers. I am proud to tell you that these students are making progress.
We’ve seen LEAP and iLEAP scores steadily increase since the inception of the program, with students scoring Basic or above on the LEAP and iLEAP rising 2.4 percentage points, from 41.6 percent in 2012-2013 to 44 percent in 2013-2014. This progress continues a long-term trend of improvement. Between 2010 and 2014, the percentage of students in the program scoring Basic or above has improved from 31 percent to 44 percent.
We believe in the power of parents, the ability for parents to make the right and smart choices that’s best for their students and we’ll continue to advocate and defend every parent’s right to make the best educational choice for their son or daughter.
 
Ann Duplessis
President
Louisiana Federation for Children

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