Course choice leading to more questions than answers
We have much empathy for our educators and administrators dealing with the continuous changes to Louisiana’s public schools. It has to be difficult to understand and accept so many new rules and regulations regarding course changes, financing, accountability, nutrition and more. Act I and Act II that came out of this year’s legislative session are, if anything, confusing.
Why do we use the word ‘confusing’, you might ask? Well, confusion is the general feeling that takes over as the Jennings Daily News tries to best explain how these changes are affecting our local schools.
For example, if you read today’s page one story about the Course Choice Program and were confused, it’s okay – the entire situation is actually quite confusing.
Last week, a district judge ruled Act 2 was unconstitutional because – as everyone realized before Act 2 was even passed – it aims to take public tax dollars and shift them into private and charter schools. Act 2 also provides for those tax dollars to be given to private, for-profit and online businesses and groups via the Course Choice Program.
Gov. Bobby Jindal and Superintendent of Education John White decried the judge’s decision and vowed to appeal.
So, this week, knowing a district judge had declared Act 2 unconstitutional, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) still voted 8-2 to approve 45 Course Choice providers, despite knowing Act 2 is in the courts and also knowing Act 2 gives public money to private businesses. For example, one of the Course Choice provider applicants is Sylvan Learning, for which you have probably seen many television commercials. It is a tutoring business that costs several hundred dollars per student and has centers in many large cities across the state and country.
These are not Louisiana-based companies or for-profits, either. Many of the Course Choice providers are from other states. So we can’t really argue that using tax dollars to boost state business is a plus.
While one part of the government is ruling Act 2 unconstitutional, another part is working hard to get the program into schools by the fall semester of 2013 even while the program is tied up in courts.
Makes perfect sense, right?
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