Education policy: Left v. Right, Sen. Obama v. Gov. Jindah

The Heartland Institute reports that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is close to winning support in his state’s legislature for a $10 million dollar pilot program “that would pay private school tuition for some children in New Orleans public schools.”

“The 25-12 state Senate vote sends a bill back to the lower chamber for its reconsideration. Some form of the measure, one of Jindal’s top legislative priorities, is now certain to reach the governor’s desk, with the plan slated to start this fall.”

UPDATE JUNE 17, 2008: La. Senate OKs school vouchers for New Orleans

We’ve noted on these pages before the fact that for all his years in the Illinois state senate and now in the U.S. Senate, Barack Obama hasn’t done a darn thing to improve the public school system. This is particularly regrettable since the Chicago public schools are not serving Barack’s constituents well at all.

Here are a few of the reactions Heartland gathered from education reform experts following the news of Governor Jindal’s efforts.

Neal McCluskey, Associate Director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom:

“Combining the great news from Louisiana with last month’s enactment of education tax credits in Georgia, and expansion of credits in Florida, it’s clear parental choice is on the move. These programs, unfortunately, are too small to drive system-wide competition and innovation, but they will help all students who can access them, and leave no question that educational freedom is in ever-greater demand. Woe be unto them who stand in its way.”

Andrew Campanella, Director of Communications for the Alliance for School Choice:

“The Louisiana House, Senate, and Gov. Bobby Jindal deserve an enormous amount of credit for putting children first. This program will work to improve the education for children living in areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. While there are still additional steps that must be taken for this program to become a reality, we are hopeful that Louisiana will be the next state to join the growing school choice movement.”

Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy at the Illinois Policy Institute:

“Since Hurricane Katrina, the nation has watched the recovery and rebuilding taking place in New Orleans. Lawmakers in Louisiana deserve praise for courageously looking inward, examining what was not working before the hurricane, and now reinventing public education in a city whose families deserve no less than a world-class network of schools.

“As has long been the case with its music and its cuisine, New Orleans’ newfound emphasis on school choice should be an inspiration to us all.”

Karla Dial, Managing Editor of School Reform News:

“Now students in New Orleans will be able to reap the same benefits of choice that students in Milwaukee, Cleveland, and the District of Columbia have enjoyed the last few years. It’s interesting to note that a growing number of African-American Democrats nationwide, such as Louisiana Rep. Austin Badon and Sen. Anne Duplessis, are beginning to champion this cause for their constituents, even as Eleanor Holmes Norton, delegate to Congress for the District of Columbia, is seeking to tear down that choice program with both hands. Fortunately, there seem to be more Badons and Duplessises at the moment than Holmes Nortons.”

Robert Holland, Senior Fellow at the Heartland Institute:

“Recently New Orleans became the first U.S. city with more than half its public school students enrolled in independently managed charter schools. But Gov. Jindal realized it is equally important for parents to have access to all that a healthy private sector can provide their children. His voucher plan, now on the verge of final legislative approval, will help give the public charter schools healthy competition. In the process, it will put New Orleans in the vanguard of the growing school choice movement.”

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In other news, this from the Reason Foundation:

Obama’s Preschool Plan Isn’t the Right Fix

With Sen. Barack Obama calling for spending $10 billion a year on early education, Reason Foundation’s Lisa Snell looks at the long-term test scores of kids who go to government-run universal preschool programs and finds a lack of lasting benefits for students. Snell writes, “Without high quality K-12 education, no amount of investment in early education can close the achievement gap or make the United States globally competitive…

For the best results, and to truly help disadvantaged kids, Obama should shift from pushing universal preschool to calling for meaningful reforms in our K-12 public schools.”