Sunday, July 1, 2012

As private school vouchers expand in New Orleans, eyes turn toward state for accountability plan | NOLA.com

As private school vouchers expand in New Orleans, eyes turn toward state for accountability plan | NOLA.com:


As private school vouchers expand in New Orleans, eyes turn toward state for accountability plan


Since the flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina, two public school systems have grown side by side out of the wreckage in New Orleans, one operated by the state, another by the local school board. Now, a third school system of sorts, still comparatively small but growing, is elbowing its way into the mix, not entirely public but subsidized by millions of taxpayer dollars. These are the more than two dozen private schools in the parish that have opted to take part in the state's voucher program, accepting students who qualify for public funding to pay their tuition.
What began as a tiny, state-run pilot program in 2008 with backing from Gov.Bobby Jindal is growing into another miniature school district, on track to educate roughly 2,300 Orleans Parish students when the new academic year opens this fall.
With a statewide expansion opening vouchers to high school students and those attending not just failing but C- and D-rated schools this year, voucher enrollment in the city could grow by another 900 pupils before the school year begins.
All of the schools that take vouchers existed before the program, and most of them are run by the CatholicArchdiocese of New Orleans. Most students at these schools still pay their own tuition. But the latest available data from the state Department of Education provide the broad outlines of what's emerging as a quasi-public realm, one that has touched off an ideological debate over how closely 


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