Is Lousianna's Voucher Program Bad for Religious Freedom

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Alissa_Sal's picture
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Is Lousianna's Voucher Program Bad for Religious Freedom

Jindal’s voucher program called ‘bad for religious freedom’ by Interfaith Alliance - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is getting new pushback on his school voucher program, which is now the biggest in the country.

Opposition is coming from the Interfaith Alliance, a national, nonpartisan grassroots and educational organization based in Washington that has 185,000 members nationwide made up of 75 faith traditions as well as those of no faith tradition.

A letter sent to Jindal on Tuesday signed by the alliance's president, the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, says in part: "Your school voucher scheme is bad for religious freedom and bad for public education as well as a blatant attack on the religious freedom clauses in the United States Constitution."

The program is a result of a new law that allows the state to offer vouchers to more than half of Louisiana's public school students, and dozens of religious schools have been given permission to accept voucher students even though they have not shown that they have the resources to handle the influx.

Many of these schools use curriculum that promotes Young Earth Creationism, which holds the belief that the universe is no older than 10,000 years old despite definitive scientific evidence that it is billions of years old. And Jindal is supporting an "accountability" plan that says private schools in the program with fewer than 40 voucher students don't have to show that those students have achieved basic competency in reading, math, social studies and science in order to keep receiving state funds. Some accountability, huh?

The letter from Gaddy, pastor for Preaching and Worship at Northminster (Baptist) Church in Monroe, La., is of special interest because it comes from the faith community.

Here's the text of the letter:
[QUOTE]
August 7, 2012

The Honorable Bobby Jindal

Office of the Governor of Louisiana
P.O. Box 94004
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9004

Dear Governor Jindal:
I write to you as the President of Interfaith Alliance to express my disappointment, concern and indeed, outrage at the school voucher program you have implemented in the state of Louisiana. Not only do I represent this national organization whose members come together from 75 faith traditions and belief systems to protect religious freedom, champion individual rights, and promote policies that protect both religion and democracy, I also serve as Senior Pastor for Preaching and Worship at Northminster (Baptist) Church in Monroe, and thus, I am one of your constituents. Your school voucher scheme is bad for religious freedom and bad for public education as well as a blatant attack on the religious freedom clauses in the United States Constitution.

Thankfully, thoughtful educators, concerned citizens, and media representatives in the state are exposing your ruthless attack on public education - the provision that the founders of our nation considered essential to the survival of our democracy. You seem unable to distinguish between religious indoctrination and basic public education. Though Interfaith Alliance is a non-litigious agency, we are encouraging other agencies to file suits challenging your decision to use public tax dollars to build structures for churches across the state and to fund educational curricula that qualify more as a catechism than as a tool for holistic education. Of course, you flaunted your disregard for government-subsidized religion by choosing a Roman Catholic Church as the venue at which to sign your legislation!

When in 1785 the state of Virginia considered a bill that would fund "Teachers of the Christian Religion," James Madison penned his famous remonstrance reminding his contemporaries, and indeed, generations to come, that "it is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him." Put another way, funding, participating in, and sending our children to religious education programs is the right and responsibility of faith communities, clergy, and parents as they see fit; not of our government. Every American also has an equal right to choose not to fund or participate in religious education.

Your voucher program also will fund private schools and curricula that are inevitably not up to the standards of quality information of public schools, and fund the teaching of theology, which goes against the fundamentals of our religious freedom. I was appalled to learn that private schools - funded with my taxes - will teach our children that evolution does not exist, using the fabled Loch Ness Monster as a "real" example, from textbooks that state:
"God created each type of fish, amphibian, and reptile as separate, unique animals. Any similarities that exist among them are due to the fact that one Master Craftsmen fashioned them all."

Let me be clear: I am not appalled that a Christian school is teaching its students that God created the Earth. Children in my church learn that every Sunday. I am appalled that these schools are teaching theology as science; and they're doing so with government money, my tax dollars. Teaching the theology of Creationism is part of the mission of religious schools, and religious education more broadly- I defend with my life's work their right to teach future generations about their faith. But they should not receive financial support from our government to do so.

What often gets lost in the conversation around school vouchers is the negative impact they can have on religious schools. In the short term, having new revenue streams is of course helpful to private schools, but the fact is that with government money comes government regulation, which can open religious schools up to all kinds of threats to their autonomy that it is in religion's best interest to avoid. Furthermore, public education is often called the "great equalizer," and right now, our nation is at a place in history in which all of us truly need to learn how to get along with each other and work together for the good of our nation despite our differences in religion, ethnicity, race, and income.

Besides preparing our children and young people to be proficient in math, science, grammar, thinking, and communication skills, public education has no greater role than enabling us to work and walk together despite obvious diversity. Many of the private schools in Louisiana that you are supporting with millions of dollars of vouchers are honestly saying upfront that their mission is sectarian education that promotes one faith over another and makes no effort to commend the common good.

Finally, one of the central problems with school voucher programs could not be on clearer display than it is in Louisiana: Vouchers create competition between religious groups for government funds, and put the government in a position to prefer one over another. A case in point is the reason state Rep. Valarie Hodges changed her position on the school voucher program. I wish that I could celebrate this move, and had she decided to no longer support it because she realized how harmful such funding is to our religious freedom, I would have. Instead, she changed her position on vouchers because she found out that not only Christian groups received the funding, but Muslim groups can too. As a former Hindu - a minority religion in this nation - you, as much as anyone in our state, should be fully aware that herein lies one of the many problems with funneling government money to religious groups. By doing so, the government can (or at least can try) to pick and choose between them -- exactly the situation our founders created the First Amendment to avoid.

In short, the school vouchers system you have allowed to be implemented in our state embodies everything that is wrong with school vouchers as a whole and threatens the integrity of both religion and government. I hope that you will take a step back and see that what you are doing is propelling education in Louisiana back to a level that will decrease even more our abominable ranking when it comes to education in our nation. You are hurting the state, the education of our children, and broadsiding an affront to the values of religious freedom that most of us hold dear.

I am incapable of and uninterested in judging your motivations for such a destruction of education in our state. But, you are capable of changing your mind and helping the situation rather than hurting it. Governor Jindal, please, for the sake of all that is good about education, religious freedom, and our state, put an end to the school vouchers program in Louisiana.

Sincerely,
C. Welton Gaddy

[/QUOTE]

Bolding is mine.

Thoughts?

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1535

I do not see it as an attack on freedom of religion. No one is forcing parents to choose religious schooling, the voucher system just give the parents the financial backing to choose what kind of education they would like their child to receive. I am a big fan of the voucher system in general though so I may not be able to look at the other side with an unbiased opinion

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

I do not see how this is an attack on religious freedom. It already is, that if you accept federal financial aid, you then have to adhere to certain federal standards. Take for example the college that I went to (Tennessee Temple University), they except financial aid for their students even though they are a private Christian University. They in turn, have to meat Government standards for a college education. Then take for example other Christian colleges such as Bob Jones University or Pensacola College. They receive no federal funds at all, so they have more freedom to do things as they please. If a school were to choose to accept the voucher, they would have to do so with the knowledge that it gave the government more control in their decision making. If that was something that the private school did not want, then they would just not accept the vouchers. It already is this way in if a school with accept federal money or not.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
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Many of these schools use curriculum that promotes Young Earth Creationism, which holds the belief that the universe is no older than 10,000 years old despite definitive scientific evidence that it is billions of years old.

This is making an assumption that there is no scientific proof to support a young earth when that is not the case.

Age of the earth

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

Actually, from what I understand, the vouchers are Louisiana money and they aren't going to be asking the schools to do anything different. I think it's silly to pretend like this has anything to do with freedom of religion. They want it to be freedom from religion. It's hypocritical IMO. The vouchers are brilliant and it's honestly stupid to pretend like Louisiana could drop any lower than it already has. Private schooling is the only way to go down here IMO. I'm actually kinda pissed my sister chose public for my niece despite it being one of the best public schools in the state.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
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Gloria, if we're going to debate the age of the earth, let's do a spin off.

The problem I have with vouchers is two-fold - one, they funnel money away from public schools that desperately need them (if your public schools suck, taking money away from them will NOT solve the problem) and two, I am fine with anyone choosing to send their kids to private school, but I feel they should do it on their own dime. The whole point of private schools is that since they don't take public money, they can do what they want. Funneling public money into private schools in essence makes them public schools, and therefore they need to abide by the first amendment which says that they can't teach religious dogma because that would mean a public school is favoring one religion over another. I think the voucher program is just a sneaky way to try to have your cake and eat it too. Either send your kids to public school and let's all work on making them better, or send your kids to private school, but don't ask me to pay for it.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

Gloria, if we're going to debate the age of the earth, let's do a spin off.

The problem I have with vouchers is two-fold - one, they funnel money away from public schools that desperately need them (if your public schools suck, taking money away from them will NOT solve the problem) and two, I am fine with anyone choosing to send their kids to private school, but I feel they should do it on their own dime. The whole point of private schools is that since they don't take public money, they can do what they want. Funneling public money into private schools in essence makes them public schools, and therefore they need to abide by the first amendment which says that they can't teach religious dogma because that would mean a public school is favoring one religion over another. I think the voucher program is just a sneaky way to try to have your cake and eat it too. Either send your kids to public school and let's all work on making them better, or send your kids to private school, but don't ask me to pay for it.

I see where you are going. At the same time, it is frustrating to have to pay for schools that you think are terrible and you know you will never use.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4115

So it is not a problem for Christian parents to have to pay for public schools that favor Atheistic theories which cannot be proven, but it is a problem for those same parents to get vouchers to send their kids to schools that teach something else? Public schools absolutely favor evolutionary theories which cannot be proven. In fact in some cases they teach things that are blatently false.
(Google Haeckel’s drawings which were included in textbooks until just a very few years ago which were proven false over 100 years ago.
CSC - What do Modern Textbooks Really Say about Haeckel's Embryos?)
Yet we are required to subsidize these students. Even if parents get vouchers for the time their kids are actually attending school they are still paying taxes that support public schools all the years before and after their kids are in school.

Alissa_Sal's picture
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Evolution is not an "atheistic" theory. The theory of evolution does not (and cannot) address the question about whether or not a god exists, and plenty of religious people (including Christians) embrace evolution as a valid scientific theory. It's disingenuous to compare teaching a scientific theory (which again, offers zero commentary on the existence of a divine being) in a science class to teaching religious dogma in public schools. The point of having public schools is to offer schooling to everyone regardless of creed or religion or SES, giving everyone equal access to education. You may prefer a school that teaches only your exact belief system, and that is your right, but again, you can go ahead and pay for that yourself. The rest of us should have the ability to send our children to quality public schools where they can get a general education and interact with people from all different belief systems. Again, if your public schools are falling down in that area, defunding them won't solve the problem.

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

actually, it saves them money. From what I understand they pay out around 3500 a year per child for the voucher system and the "cost" of one student in a public school is over 6,000. So again, brilliant.

eta-OH! and it's not middle class or rich kids getting the vouchers. You have to be at least 250% below poverty level to receive a voucher. So basically those that are high risk anyway.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"wlillie" wrote:

actually, it saves them money. From what I understand they pay out around 3500 a year per child for the voucher system and the "cost" of one student in a public school is over 6,000. So again, brilliant.

eta-OH! and it's not middle class or rich kids getting the vouchers. You have to be at least 250% below poverty level to receive a voucher. So basically those that are high risk anyway.

Lillie, could you cite? My Google Fu isn't bringing specific numbers up.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1535

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

Gloria, if we're going to debate the age of the earth, let's do a spin off.

The problem I have with vouchers is two-fold - one, they funnel money away from public schools that desperately need them (if your public schools suck, taking money away from them will NOT solve the problem) and two, I am fine with anyone choosing to send their kids to private school, but I feel they should do it on their own dime. The whole point of private schools is that since they don't take public money, they can do what they want. Funneling public money into private schools in essence makes them public schools, and therefore they need to abide by the first amendment which says that they can't teach religious dogma because that would mean a public school is favoring one religion over another. I think the voucher program is just a sneaky way to try to have your cake and eat it too. Either send your kids to public school and let's all work on making them better, or send your kids to private school, but don't ask me to pay for it.

I think this argument would only make sense if public schools were failing because of a lack of funds. Throwing more money at the schools is not going to guarantee success.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

"mom3girls" wrote:

I think this argument would only make sense if public schools were failing because of a lack of funds. Throwing more money at the schools is not going to guarantee success.

I agree with this.

(OT- YAY, I have other people on my side!)

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4115

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

Evolution is not an "atheistic" theory. The theory of evolution does not (and cannot) address the question about whether or not a god exists, and plenty of religious people (including Christians) embrace evolution as a valid scientific theory. It's disingenuous to compare teaching a scientific theory (which again, offers zero commentary on the existence of a divine being) in a science class to teaching religious dogma in public schools. The point of having public schools is to offer schooling to everyone regardless of creed or religion or SES, giving everyone equal access to education. You may prefer a school that teaches only your exact belief system, and that is your right, but again, you can go ahead and pay for that yourself. The rest of us should have the ability to send our children to quality public schools where they can get a general education and interact with people from all different belief systems. Again, if your public schools are falling down in that area, defunding them won't solve the problem.

Never mind an exact belief system, I would at least prefer a school that teaches the truth. There are many things being taught about evolution that have been proven false that are still being taught as fact.

Horse evolution
http://www.brown.edu/Departments/EEB/janis/Janis%202010%20abstracts/Janis_Horse%20Series07.pdf
Pepper moths
Peppered Moths, Textbook Fraud Case
Piltdown man
The Piltdown Man Fraud - Answers in Genesis
Neandertals
Neandertals Mixed with Humans in China – Creation Revolution

Alissa_Sal's picture
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"mom3girls" wrote:

I think this argument would only make sense if public schools were failing because of a lack of funds. Throwing more money at the schools is not going to guarantee success.

I would be amazed if LA public schools are not already seriously underfunded. I know CO schools are, and it would sincerely surprise me to hear that LA public schools are flush. I am not saying that throwing more money at schools will automatically solve all of their problems, but I can say that siphoning money away from already struggling schools is highly unlikely to solve the problem. It takes money to hire and retain quality teachers, keep up to date text books, run programs that encourage community involvement and encourage at risk kids to develop a deeper investment in their education and school.

I admit I'm biased because my husband is a public school teacher, and I see how deeply budget cuts already affect public schools, let alone if money is being pulled away from them to fund private schools. Private schools need to either stay privately funded, or else be forced to follow the same rules that public schools function under. You can't have it both ways.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
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Gloria, I really don't want to debate evolution or young earth creationism in this thread because I really want to get people's thoughts on school vouchers. That would be a great spin off debate though, if you would like to start it. I will simply say that if a science class is teaching factually incorrect information or outdated theories, I would agree that they need to fix that. I don't believe the fix lies in diverting their funds to a religious school so that the religious school can teach their religious dogma in place of science.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

Gloria, I really don't want to debate evolution or young earth creationism in this thread because I really want to get people's thoughts on school vouchers. That would be a great spin off debate though, if you would like to start it. I will simply say that if a science class is teaching factually incorrect information or outdated theories, I would agree that they need to fix that. I don't believe the fix lies in diverting their funds to a religious school so that the religious school can teach their religious dogma in place of science.

But yet the whole article you quoted uses that reason as why school vouchers are bad. It isn't just about religious dogma, it is also about schools daring to teach something other than what is considered 'acceptable' to the Freedom From Religion crowd.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I would be amazed if LA public schools are not already seriously underfunded. I know CO schools are, and it would sincerely surprise me to hear that LA public schools are flush. I am not saying that throwing more money at schools will automatically solve all of their problems, but I can say that siphoning money away from already struggling schools is highly unlikely to solve the problem. It takes money to hire and retain quality teachers, keep up to date text books, run programs that encourage community involvement and encourage at risk kids to develop a deeper investment in their education and school.

I admit I'm biased because my husband is a public school teacher, and I see how deeply budget cuts already affect public schools, let alone if money is being pulled away from them to fund private schools. Private schools need to either stay privately funded, or else be forced to follow the same rules that public schools function under. You can't have it both ways.

Alissa, how is it taking money away from public schools? Schools get paid per student, per day they are in classes. So if the school is spending x amount of money on a student, if they no longer have that student, they are not spending x amount of money on him. So for example, If I were to pay $1,000 (Just using round numbers) in taxes per year towards the school system, that $1,000 would only pay for my child's education. If I were to pull my child out of school, why can't that $1,000 still go toward my child's education? It is not taking money away from anyone else. We are just saying that I should be able to decide what to do with the money that I personally put into my child's education.

Alissa_Sal's picture
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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

But yet the whole article you quoted uses that reason as why school vouchers are bad. It isn't just about religious dogma, it is also about schools daring to teach something other than what is considered 'acceptable' to the Freedom From Religion crowd.

Public funds for to teach evolution is not a religious issue, as evolution is not a religious (or atheistic) theory. Public funds to teach creationism is a religious issue, as creationism is a religious theory. I am happy to debate the validity of evolution with you, but that's a different topic to whether or not it is appropriate to fund private schools who teach religious dogma with public funds.

GloriaInTX's picture
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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

Public funds for to teach evolution is not a religious issue, as evolution is not a religious (or atheistic) theory. Public funds to teach creationism is a religious issue, as creationism is a religious theory. I am happy to debate the validity of evolution with you, but that's a different topic to whether or not it is appropriate to fund private schools who teach religious dogma with public funds.

You are again making an assumption that Intelligent design and young earth theories are purely religious. They are not, and can be taught purely using science. Evolution IS an atheistic theory. It is absolutely entertwined in this debate as this is the reason given that public funds should not be used. It is favoring one set of beliefs over another. Evolution takes just as much belief in unproven facts as intelligent design, yet that is given as reason that public funds should not be used.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

Alissa, how is it taking money away from public schools? Schools get paid per student, per day they are in classes. So if the school is spending x amount of money on a student, if they no longer have that student, they are not spending x amount of money on him. So for example, If I were to pay $1,000 (Just using round numbers) in taxes per year towards the school system, that $1,000 would only pay for my child's education. If I were to pull my child out of school, why can't that $1,000 still go toward my child's education? It is not taking money away from anyone else. We are just saying that I should be able to decide what to do with the money that I personally put into my child's education.

My understanding is that schools work on an economy of scale. For example, whether you have 22 kids in class or 25, you still have to pay the teacher the same amount, so it's same cost with less revenue. The same can be said for the costs to run the buildings, costs to run after school clubs, all sorts of things. The costs are fairly set no matter how many students you have, it's the revenue that gets affected when you start pulling funding away. Obviously if you lose enough kids you could start losing teachers and I suppose closing down parts of the school, but a school that has to do that is probably on it's way to closing down and actually eliminating a public school option for kids in that area.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
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My DH is a public school teacher as well. I know how school budget cuts effect the classroom, but any time more money comes into the school coffers it doesnt go directly to the classroom.
Private schools can and do afford kids a better education and on average do it for 4 thousand dollars less a year.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

You are again making an assumption that Intelligent design and young earth theories are purely religious. They are not, and can be taught purely using science. Evolution IS an atheistic theory. It is absolutely entertwined in this debate as this is the reason given that public funds should not be used. It is favoring one set of beliefs over another. Evolution takes just as much belief in unproven facts as intelligent design, yet that is given as reason that public funds should not be used.

Evolution is not an atheistic theory. It's just not. It doesn't talk at all about whether or not there is a divine being. Evolution seems to contradict the literal interpretation of some creation myths, but it is a logical fallacy to say that because evolution contradicts a bible story, this can be used as proof that there is no god. It can't, and it doesn't. If an atheist says this to you, you have my full endorsement as an atheist to smirk at them (only not on the GDB, because that wouldn't be civil.)

I have yet to see any scientific proof that ID is true - the "proof" works off of a false premise that if you can disprove evolution, ID must automatically be true. That is also a logical fallacy, and not scientific. If you can use science (using the scientific method) to actually support ID (as opposed to just try to discredit evolution) then I would support it being taught in a science classroom.

There are REAMS of evidence supporting evolution. I'm sure we don't understand it all fully and there will be the need to tweak our understanding as new evidence emerges, and I am fine with that. That is what should always be done in science; lose the stuff that is not supported by the evidence. But comparing it to ID is a pretty big misnomer.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

You are again making an assumption that Intelligent design and young earth theories are purely religious. They are not, and can be taught purely using science. Evolution IS an atheistic theory. It is absolutely entertwined in this debate as this is the reason given that public funds should not be used. It is favoring one set of beliefs over another. Evolution takes just as much belief in unproven facts as intelligent design, yet that is given as reason that public funds should not be used.

No, it's not. Many people believe in both.

Most people seem to agree that there is evolution and adaptation among species. Such as viruses mutating to create "super viruses."

There's just as much evidence that the Christain theory is right as there is that the [insert other religion here] is right.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
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"mom3girls" wrote:

My DH is a public school teacher as well. I know how school budget cuts effect the classroom, but any time more money comes into the school coffers it doesnt go directly to the classroom.
Private schools can and do afford kids a better education and on average do it for 4 thousand dollars less a year.

I would argue whether that is always the case. In LA they're talking about using public school funds to teach kids that the Loch Ness Monster and dragons were real, and make slave owners and the KKK sound "not so bad." I would hope if that's the quality of education they are giving kids, they do it at bargain prices. Blum 3

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

"wlillie" wrote:

actually, it saves them money. From what I understand they pay out around 3500 a year per child for the voucher system and the "cost" of one student in a public school is over 6,000. So again, brilliant.

eta-OH! and it's not middle class or rich kids getting the vouchers. You have to be at least 250% below poverty level to receive a voucher. So basically those that are high risk anyway.

Including local, state, and federal funds, Louisiana spends on average $10,307 per pupil. This is almost the national average of $10,557 per pupil. State law restricts "scholarships," i.e. voucher payments to 90% of that amount which would be about $9250 per student. Not nearly as significant a savings as you think.
http://www.coweninstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/SPELA-Funding-and-ARRA.pdf

And it's 250% ABOVE poverty level, not below, which is about $57,625 for a family of four. I've seen estimates that say more half of all students in Louisiana will qualify.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

The problem I have with vouchers is two-fold - one, they funnel money away from public schools that desperately need them (if your public schools suck, taking money away from them will NOT solve the problem) and two, I am fine with anyone choosing to send their kids to private school, but I feel they should do it on their own dime. The whole point of private schools is that since they don't take public money, they can do what they want. Funneling public money into private schools in essence makes them public schools, and therefore they need to abide by the first amendment which says that they can't teach religious dogma because that would mean a public school is favoring one religion over another. I think the voucher program is just a sneaky way to try to have your cake and eat it too. Either send your kids to public school and let's all work on making them better, or send your kids to private school, but don't ask me to pay for it.

This, exactly. If you want public money for your private school, then become a charter school and follow all the rules of being properly accredited, acceptable curriculm requirements and everything else the state requires for publicly-funded education.

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

That crap was all taken out of context.

I was wrong. Wink It's 8800-12,900 and 3,000-8,800. In MS we would pay 3600 a year for Jason to attend the private school we just got into. Which has one of the top K-4 programs in the state; they just had two kids enter public school and skipped kindergarten completely because they were ready for 1st grade. I would love the voucher program since the public schools run by the government tend to do a ****ty job no matter how much money is pumped into the system. It gets wasted on things that aren't needed and with the buddy/buddy system we currently have due to dishonest politicians, there is absolutely no way I'd want my money spent on the old system. (though I don't pay Louisiana income taxes due to their lovely military exemption!).

Education Vouchers Are Cost Effective and Desired | Heartland Institute
By law, the value of each voucher can't exceed the sum the state would spend educating that child in public school -- on average, $8,800 a year. Small private schools often charge as little as $3,000 to $5,000 a year.

Louisiana's bold bid to privatize schools | Reuters

And I know I bring it up every time we debate homeschool and private school, but I and my siblings tested WAY higher than our age group when entering the public school system and my mom (bless her heart) was a horrible teacher. We used the Abeka program and it was 100% selfpaced and taught with just the books/videos/cards provided back then.

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

That crap was all taken out of context.

I was wrong. Wink It's 8800-12,900 and 3,000-8,800. In MS we would pay 3600 a year for Jason to attend the private school we just got into. Which has one of the top K-4 programs in the state; they just had two kids enter public school and skipped kindergarten completely because they were ready for 1st grade. I would love the voucher program since the public schools run by the government tend to do a ****ty job no matter how much money is pumped into the system. It gets wasted on things that aren't needed and with the buddy/buddy system we currently have due to dishonest politicians, there is absolutely no way I'd want my money spent on the old system. (though I don't pay Louisiana income taxes due to their lovely military exemption!).

Education Vouchers Are Cost Effective and Desired | Heartland Institute
By law, the value of each voucher can't exceed the sum the state would spend educating that child in public school -- on average, $8,800 a year. Small private schools often charge as little as $3,000 to $5,000 a year.

Louisiana's bold bid to privatize schools | Reuters

And I know I bring it up every time we debate homeschool and private school, but I and my siblings tested WAY higher than our age group when entering the public school system and my mom (bless her heart) was a horrible teacher. We used the Abeka program and it was 100% selfpaced and taught with just the books/videos/cards provided back then.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

First, on the topic of evolution, it is not a fact, but a theory and therefore should be taught as a theory. My children will never attend a school that teaches evolution as fact. I am not saying that creation should be taught in public schools, but the children should be told that not everyone believes that way and that it is not proven to be that way. Just as I teach my girls that this is what we believe, but also what is what other people believe.

On the topic of exact money amounts per student, I will try to do some research and see what I come up with.

I do know that it the state of Georgia (We live right on the TN/GA line), they have a program for private schools. Only schools that are accredited are able to participate. (You can teach creation and still be accredited) The GA state lottery funds the program. People that want to send their child to the school get friends and businesses to give to a fund and specify what student it is for. All of that money is then applied to that students school bill. Then at tax time that individual or business gets a complete refund of the amount they gave on their tax refund. There is a limit of I think $2,000 a year that a person can give but many people can give to the same student. I know of people who's tuition is paid years into the future through this program. The only schools that can accept this money are ones that are accredited. Things that are taken into consideration in getting accreditation is that your teachers are real certified teachers. You have certain resources such as a library and gym. It is a difficult accreditation to get. Any school that wanted to receive government money (In any State) would need to have a similar accreditation.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

How Much Does The Government Spend To Send A Kid To Public School? : Planet Money : NPR
Research & Commentary: School Vouchers Are a Cost-Saver for Taxpayers | Heartland Institute

The first component of the program would be a $4,000 refundable state income tax credit per child for parents who have a child attending an academically unacceptable Louisiana public school and who assume the cost of their child’s education at a private or parochial school in Louisiana.

The second part of the Louisiana New Start Education Tax Credit Program would be a $4,000 state income tax credit for any Louisiana taxpayer who donates this amount to a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships for students in failing public schools. The nonprofit must be recognized by the Louisiana Department of Education, and the scholarship money must be used for families who elect instead to send their children to a private or parochial school.
SiteArticlesByCat - Louisiana New Start Education Tax Credit...

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

"wlillie" wrote:

By law, the value of each voucher can't exceed the sum the state would spend educating that child in public school -- on average, $8,800 a year. Small private schools often charge as little as $3,000 to $5,000 a year.

Louisiana's bold bid to privatize schools | Reuters

And I know I bring it up every time we debate homeschool and private school, but I and my siblings tested WAY higher than our age group when entering the public school system and my mom (bless her heart) was a horrible teacher. We used the Abeka program and it was 100% selfpaced and taught with just the books/videos/cards provided back then.

You should have also quoted the very next paragraph in that article:
"Yet at some private schools with low tuition, administrators contacted by Reuters said they would also ask the state to cover additional, unspecified fees, which would bring the cost to taxpayers close to the $8,800 cap. The law requires the state to cover both tuition and fees."

I wasn't homeschooled, nor did I attend an academic preschool (it was a co-op & my mom says it was more about the moms getting time off than anything about the kids!) nor did I have any preparation for school at all, and both my sister & I also tested way above our peers all through our education. My mom resisted the school's pressure to skip us ahead because she wanted us to be with our age peers more than our academic peers. I never got a "B" in school until my senior year of high school, and then it was sheer laziness. Should I advocate that all moms do those things so that their kids will do great in school? Not at all, I just happen to be a good learner, and another kid might not have done as well under the same circumstances.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

What is common here is that a private (typically Catholic elementary) runs 3-4000 a year BUT has to do fundraisers year round to make up the cost. So it still equals the 8000 or so typically spent on public school kids.

It just sounds messy there. I don't like the idea of vouchers going to private schools. I much rather you take time and the same money and fund it back into the school with hiring of more staff, less kids per class etc.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

The problem that I have with this is that everyone says that if you want your child to be taught in a religious environment, that is fine but you need to pay for it yourself. However in this argument you are saying that yes, send your child to a private school and pay for your child's education, but also pay for my child's education. Now where I live in TN it is not that bad. Property taxes are reasonable and not that much to get upset about, but my parents live in NY. They pay almost $600 a month in property taxes. Almost all of that goes to the schools. They do not have any child or grandchild in the public schools there, but are still paying thousands of dollars a year toward the public schools that they do not agree with. They are also helping to pay for my sister's children (their grandchildren's) private school education. Why should they have to pay for both? The schools and taxes in NY are one of the main reasons we will not move back to NY even though all of my family is there.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

Well that is the idea for taxes. We all have access to public schools but if you want a private education for whatever reason you have to pay for it. I pay taxes for the roads in my town but I don't generally go on most of them. My grandmother pays taxes on all the roads in town and she lives on a private road that doesn't get funded by taxes.

Of course they have to pay taxes for schools in their area. That is the idea. We don't pay nearly the amount in taxes that it would cost our kids to be educated each year it relies on those who kids are grown and the childless to help fund it. It's bundled into all the town services. Can you say you don't want police services? No.

I don't understand why the fact your parents pay for their grandchildren's education means they don't pay for public education. Why doesn't your sister pay for their education?

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"Jessica80" wrote:

Well that is the idea for taxes. We all have access to public schools but if you want a private education for whatever reason you have to pay for it. I pay taxes for the roads in my town but I don't generally go on most of them. My grandmother pays taxes on all the roads in town and she lives on a private road that doesn't get funded by taxes.

Of course they have to pay taxes for schools in their area. That is the idea. We don't pay nearly the amount in taxes that it would cost our kids to be educated each year it relies on those who kids are grown and the childless to help fund it. It's bundled into all the town services. Can you say you don't want police services? No.

I don't understand why the fact your parents pay for their grandchildren's education means they don't pay for public education. Why doesn't your sister pay for their education?

Agree with this. No one has to "pay twice." Our taxes are set up so that everyone has equal access to the public schools because as a society we agree that we are all better off if everyone has access to education. If you decide to go outside of that, that is your choice, and you should have to pay for that.

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

But it's a state program so it's really not up to anyone except the citizens (legal) of Louisiana. If they decide they want to allow people to choose to send their kid to a school that teaches a few crazy notions but still is better than their local public school, it's their decision. And with the public school system being consistently in the bottom 3 of for the nation, I'm imagining it's time to revamp the entire system. Maybe once the people who are mooching off the public school system realize their funding (same amount for public/private) is going and the kids are doing better, maybe they'll adapt to the systems that work. Our current public school system (MS and LA) are crap. Complete and utter crap.

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796