August 18, 2023

Kim Chatelain: The Cost Of Choice: How Louisiana’s Voucher Program Steered Families Into D and F Private Schools

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This is an old piece, from back in 2019. But it’s a reminder of the many failures of a sweeping voucher program implemented in Louisiana.

Reporting for New Orleans Public Radion, Kim Chatelain showed how the voucher program did not rescue students from bad public schools, but instead steered them to low-performing private schools with little oversight.

Bobby Jindal and Betsy DeVos applauded the 2012 expansion of vouchers when it first passed.

Seven years later, however, the $40-million-a-year Louisiana Scholarship Program has failed to live up to its billing. The nearly 6,900 students who’ve left public schools have instead been placed into a system with numerous failing private schools that receive little oversight, a months-long examination by a coalition of local and national media organizations has found.

Two-thirds of all students in the voucher system attended schools where they performed at a “D” or “F” level last school year, according to a data analysis by | The Times-Picayune, WVUE Fox 8 News, WWNO and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

“Bobby Jindal did not set up the Louisiana Scholarship Program for success. He set it up for low-performing schools to get subsidized and to stay open,” said Andre Perry, a fellow at The Brookings Institution and formerly the associate director for education initiatives at Loyola University’s Institute for Quality and Equity in Education.

Public schools in Louisiana each receive a grade from the Louisiana Department of Education based on their students’ performance on standardized tests. Our analysis calculated the grades that private and parochial schools would receive based on the test scores of their voucher students.

Not a single school in the voucher program received an A or B. Three received a C. Of the remaining schools, 19 got a D and 15 got an F, based on the Louisiana Department of Education rating system.

Read the full report here. 

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