Families of 12,000 students demand school choice

Friday, March 29, 2013 - 11:00pm

The Louisiana Department of Education announced that families of nearly 12,000 students across the state are seeking participation in the Louisiana Scholarship Program. This increase, up from approximately 10,000 students in 2012, comes even as opponents have sued the state to prevent parents from choosing the school of their choice.

"Statewide, parents are exercising choice for their children," said State Superintendent John White. "All Louisiana families deserve this right, no matter their wealth, no matter who tries to stand in their way."

"The growth in participation reflects the message we have heard repeatedly from parents -- they want the ability to choose the best educational option for their children," said BESE President Chas Roemer. "All students deserve access to a high-quality education in a setting that works best for them; this is why we continue to expand school choice options and opportunities across the state."

Along with this steady increase in participation, satisfaction with the program among current participants is high. A survey conducted by the Black Alliance for Educational Options and the Louisiana Federation for Children showed that 92.5 percent of the parents of scholarship students were very satisfied with the program. Similarly, 93.6 percent of parents responded they were very satisfied with their child's academic progress, and nearly every respondent felt their child was safe at school and felt very welcome.

"If my kids go to the school of my choice, I'd be so excited," said Sonya Robinson, a parent who recently applied to the Scholarship Program, "It's very important for me to have a choice in my children's education. I want my kids to know that their education does matter. It gives me and my kids an option for them to succeed in life. My kids' education is more important to me than anything. I want my kids to have a good education so they can go to college and succeed in life."

Over the next few weeks, the Department will work with schools to match students based on their preferred school and school capacity. If the number of applicants exceeds capacity, the scholarships will be awarded through a lottery process. All applicants will be notified of the status of their application by mail no later than the week of April 15, and the Department may conduct additional rounds of student application and student assignment.

The number of schools likely participating in the scholarship program also has seen a steady increase. After a review of accreditation status, school surveys, and site visits, the Department listed 129 schools on the student application, up from 118 last school year. Additional information on the school review process and the overall timetable for the Louisiana Scholarship Program can be found here.

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