Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Unlimited Threat of Vouchers and Course Choice

Update on MFP 5/23/13:

At this point, the new MFP is still bottled up in the Senate Education Committee by a motion passed earlier this week to defer action on the new resolution. This is very good news for supporters of public education, because the rejection of the new MFP means that the state would revert to the 2011-12 MFP formula. This formula is actually better for public schools than the 2012-13 formula which was struck down by the Louisiana Supreme Court. My only advice at this point is be prepared for a sneak attack on the MFP by the Jindal Administration. This is just too good to be true!

MFP Resolution is a Trap for Louisiana Taxpayers

The MFP resolution now before the Louisiana Senate contains an escape clause to account for the recent Louisiana Supreme Court decision outlawing the funding of vouchers through the MFP. But that escape clause is a trap for the taxpayers of Louisiana. By approving the MFP as it is presently worded the legislature will be putting a permanent stamp of approval on an unlimited voucher/course choice system to be paid for by our taxpayers without a vote of those taxpayers. See Part F, page 25 and 26 of SCR 23. With the approval of this Resolution, Jindal will accomplish 2 major attacks on public education in one fell swoop. The new MFP eliminates the growth factor and establishes both the Course Choice program and the Scholarship program to voucher schools as a semi-permanent priority for the state.

Once both of these issues are approved as part of the MFP, the Jindal controlled BESE can ignore the growth factor in future years as well as this year and at the same time conclude that vouchers/course choice is a priority of the legislature and include them in future MFPs. If the legislature fails to approve such future MFPs , the formula will revert to this year's formula, and the unlimited vouchers and course choices will remain as funding priorities! What a slick legislative "tour de force"! Where are the tea party protesters to this incredible new entitlement being visited upon us by the Jindal administration?

Legislators should pose the following question: "If it is not constitutional to fund the vouchers through the MFP, then why does the MFP still include the wording mandating the funding of both the vouchers and the course choice program?" I believe the answer is obvious if we consider the scenario described above.

There has been no legitimate public approval of this new drain on our state taxes, yet with the approval of this resolution, Jindal and White will continue to recruit unlimited numbers of unwary parents to allow children to be used to enrich more unscrupulous small time preachers, and out of state "providers" who have already shown their hand by the methods used to recruit as many students as possible for questionable courses.

But the most outrageous development of the Jindal reforms is the almost non-existent level of accountability for these raids on our tax dollars. There is not even a mention by the Jindal administration of applying the VAM or the school grading system to the voucher school teachers and the voucher schools. The LEAP scores and EOC scores for course choice students will be assigned to these student's home public schools not to the course choice providers! The course choice providers have no mandatory attendance and in most cases no oversight at all by the state DOE on the quality of the courses being "taught". These providers have every incentive to award credit to students where no credit is due, yet the Louisiana taxpayers will foot the bill for these modern day carpetbaggers!

Jindal and White in all probability will no longer be in leadership positions when the full cost of this program balloons to unmanageable proportions in the next few years without accountability. Make no mistake about it. This is part of the plan to dismantle public education in Louisiana, all without taxpayer approval.

Please ask your senator to reject the Jindal/White MFP!


1 comment:

Lee Barrios, M.Ed., NBCT said...

Additionally, this MFP represents a move toward pay for performance for students. It begins with - as ludicrous as it sounds - special education, gifted and talented students. Our school districts will be funded depending on the performance mostly computed by test scores on the most challenging coursework. This is a recipe for discouraging students from taking on these challenges. Talented students who are not selected based on academic prowess will lose their opportunity to develop those talents as funding for this program decreases. Already struggling school districts will find their budgets for these services further stretched. It is inevitable because as you have so clearly pointed out, all students will not be high academic achievers. If this MFP formula is approved, we are one step away from a new policy to fund schools based on student performance and yet more high stakes testing.