Minden Press-Herald

Friday
Apr 18th

Legislature looking at education situation

ReynoldsVoucher

The Louisiana Legislature is in session and District 10 Representative Gene Reynolds was scheduled to attend a committee meeting Wednesday to discuss the voucher scholarship system, which is being considered in the House and Senate Education committees this week.

As part of his education reform package Gov. Bobby Jindal is asking lawmakers to approve his plan to create a program that would allow parents in some public schools to use vouchers of taxpayer dollars to pay for tuition in private schools.

According to wire reports, much of the committee meeting was spent on the voucher bill.

The House Education Committee voted 12-6 for the proposal after 11 hours of debate.

Another five hours went by before the panel voted 13-5 for the measure to make it tougher for teachers to get the job protection known as tenure and to do away with a statewide salary schedule for teachers.

The bill goes next to the full House for debate. A Senate committee is to consider similar legislation today.

During a recent "lunch bunch" meeting, Reynolds told those in attendance he thinks some form of voucher or scholarship program is on its way, but "when you get down to the nuts and bolts of actually putting them into effect there's a lot of issues that will have to be ironed out," he said.

According to Reynolds, presently the plan is to provide vouchers to every C, D, or F school, which is approximately 380,000 students, who will be ableto go to a school of their choice in August .

"The problem is," he said, "there are only about 10-to-20,000 spots, so that is not going to happen at the get-go."

The receiving schools decide how many spots are available and can decide there are no openings.

"So let's say it's Glenbrook and they may choose not to have any openings so then there will be no places for (students with vouchers) to go there," Reynolds said.

Also, Reynolds continued, "a charter school will declare how many openings they have," and students would apply and then the school would have a lottery to see who actually will attend.

Reynolds told the crowd that he couldn't support offering vouchers to the "C" schools, "because our kids in the 'C' schools are doing okay.

"If we are going to do this, he said, "a better idea in my opinion would be to focus on the 'F' schools only next year because those are the kids that need the most help according to the system we have set up."

Reynolds added that private schools or the charter schools are not required to offer special education or disability activities or services.

"So if you have a child with disabilities, your voucher will mean nothing," he said.

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