About half the students in Louisiana are about to get a chance to choose the best school for themselves. That’s the impact of the amazingly ambitious school reform program engineered by Gov. Bobby Jindal. Some 380,000 poor and middle-class students in low-performing schools will be offered a voucher worth up to $8,500. They can choose a school, they can line up a local business apprenticeship, they can take online classes toward a diploma.
The Bayou State is part of a “Top this!” competition among many states to open public schools to competition. Indiana has set up an expansive voucher program that covers students in families that have incomes below $61,000 a year. Wisconsin has expanded school choice programs in Milwaukee and Racine. Ohio will give tuition vouchers to as many as 60,000 students by 2013.
And Illinois? Left in the dust.
A bill that would have offered private school tuition support to as many as 30,000 Chicago kids came close to passing a couple of years ago. The latest version is languishing in the Senate assignments committee.