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Privatizing the public education system and the implications on the state of Louisiana.


Part I: The Trend to Privatize the American Public Education
     1. U.S. Supreme Court Rulings Regarding Vouchers
           a. The Establishment Clause in General
           b. The Lemon Test
           c. School Vouchers
     2. Challenges in State Courts
           a. State Religion Clauses
           b. State Education Clauses
           c. Litigation's Impact on Louisiana's Voucher

Part II: Problems Associated with Voucher Programs and
Possible Solutions
     1. Balancing Flexibility and Accountability
     2. Louisiana's Accountability Problem

Part III: Possible Solutions to Louisiana's Accountability Problem
     1. Look to Charter Schools
     2. NACSA'S Principles for Quality Charter School
     3. Applying these Principles to Louisiana's Voucher
           a. Create an Application Process with Third-Party,
              Independent Oversight
           b. Develop Prior Goals that Schools Must Keep in
              Order to Remain in the Program
           c. Develop More Stringent Accounting Rules



In 1955, Milton Friedman, renowned free-market economist, first proposed the idea of education vouchers in an essay entitled "The Role of Government in Education." (1) He wrote:

   Governments could require a minimum level of
   education which they could finance by giving
   parents vouchers redeemable for a specified
   maximum sum per child per year if spent on
   "approved" educational services. Parents would
   then be free to spend this sum and any additional
   sum on purchasing educational services from an
   approved institution of their own choice. (2)

With the shifting of the Republican Party platform towards a free market, anti-government ideology, Ronald Reagan's election brought about education proposals based on Friedman's vision. (3) Reagan's voucher-focused education philosophy began the "school choice" movement--or the argument that parents around the country should be able to decide where their children attend school despite their financial prosperity. (4)

School choice is usually dependent on the financial means of a student's family: children in privileged families usually attend higher quality schools then their poorer counterparts. (5) Voucher programs aim to equalize this gap, "by giving more parents access to choices they can't afford in the free market." (6) By introducing choice into the system, proponents argue vouchers will force schools to compete with each other, leading to a better educational system overall.

Although school vouchers have been relevant in education debates for over half a century, not until recently have they been on the forefront of education reform in many states, including Louisiana. (7)

From 2010 to 2013, voucher programs expanded from only two fully operational programs to twenty programs across thirteen states. (8) Moreover, local governments are incentivizing the programs with tax credits. (9) Professor Martha McCarthy states in her article entitled The Legal Status of School Vouchers: The Saga Continues, that "fifteen states have implemented state tax credits for contributions to student scholarships for private school tuition or tax deductions for money spent on private school education." (10) Additionally, McCarthy notes, "the amount of money earmarked for such initiatives tripled in a five-year span, reaching $800 million in 2013." (11) Louisiana expanded its voucher program, known as the Louisiana Scholarship Program, statewide in 2012. This program had nearly 12,000 applicants in the 2013-2014 school year alone. (12)

While the concept may seem like a well-intentioned idea to most, the school-choice movement has been riddled with political and legal conflicts. (13) Voucher opponents argue that the programs drain money from traditional public schools, are not properly supervised by the state, and lack sound evidence of improved student performance. (14) In response to calls for reform, voucher opponents began advocating for the establishment of charter schools as an alternative to voucher programs. (15) Suggesting this alternative was needed as the political debate pertaining to voucher programs diminished the goal of a quality education accessible to all. (16) This comment focuses on the problems associated with voucher programs, and suggests ways to improve them.

Louisiana has not escaped this debate. Many of the problems associated with these voucher programs have occurred since the first year of the Louisiana Scholarship Program. (17) As currently implemented in the state of Louisiana, the voucher system does not properly serve the children it was created to help. Instead, it fails to hold private participating schools accountable for the performance of the children placed in those schools through the voucher program. (18) While the goal was to move a child from a failing public school to a better performing school chosen by the parent, data shows little improvement has taken place. (19) Moving children from one failing school to another is not an educational reform, and the state of Louisiana continues to waste countless hours and dollars the longer these programs continue to operate as they currently stand.

Part I of this Comment provides an overview of the privatization trend currently taking place in public education. It details the implementation of national voucher programs through a chronological time line, how courts have handled challenges to voucher programs, and where Louisiana's scholarship program fits into the overall debate. In Part II, this Comment illustrates the problems associated with these programs. Part III offers solutions to Louisiana's accountability problem that strikes a middle ground between political parties without sacrificing quality education.


Voucher programs are just one of several strategies over the last several decades to effectively privatize the public education system. (20) Commencing with the Presidential election of Ronald Reagan, the country began to see charter schools develop, tax deductions for private education take effect, and legal battles won in favor of moving farther away from traditional public schools.

As Ronald Reagan was elected on a heavily voucher focused education platform, school choice quickly became a polarizing issue that was largely dependent on party affiliation. (21) Many schools with voucher recipients were religious institutions, which created an opportunity for Republicans to advocate for a program that was not only pro-religion, but pro-free market as well. (22) Democrats, on the other hand, saw vouchers as a way to support teachers' unions, who would lose students to private schools, and argued for the separation of church and state. (23)

In response to the controversial nature of voucher programs, Democrats began promoting charter schools to address many of their apprehensions. Furthered by the endorsement of President Bill Clinton, charter schools expanded across the country in the 1990s. (24)

"Charter schools are public schools [held] accountable through a contract or 'charter' to public bodies" such as a school board. (25) They operate with freedom from some of the regulations that are imposed upon traditional public schools and are granted greater flexibility in their operations. (26) Yet, these schools are still held accountable for academic results and for upholding the promises made in their charters. (27) If the schools fail to meet the terms of the contracts, their charters are revoked and the schools are shut down. (28)

Although utilized in the 1990s, charter schools continue to remain a relevant education reform today. According to a 2013 article in Education Week, some of the nation's wealthiest foundations (29) have shifted donations to charter schools rather than traditional public schools, promoting charter's persistence within the education system. (30)

Although charter schools have continued to expand over the last several decades, voucher proponents have argued charter schools still fail to provide parents with a private school option. (31) Subsequently, the first publicly funded voucher program was established in Milwaukee in 1990. (32) These voucher programs aimed to create a private school option for middle and low-income families who were trapped sending their children to failing public schools. (33)

In addition to creating the alternative charter-based educational system, those who opposed these voucher programs (either as an ineffective education reform or for funneling public funds into religious institutions) fought the programs on federal and state constitutional grounds. (34) For example, opponents have argued voucher programs violate the Establishment Clause, state constitution religion clauses, and state constitution education clauses. (35) The rulings have varied on a case-by-case and state-by state basis, but no ruling has stopped the expansion of these programs.

1. U.S. Supreme Court Rulings Regarding School Vouchers

a. The Establishment Clause in General

Battles in the Supreme Court have centered on the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. The issue is whether state supported voucher plans, which allow students to choose a religious school, violates the Establishment Clause by allowing public funds to flow to religious institutions. (36) The Establishment Clause states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." (37) Taken alone, the clause only applies to the federal government. However, the Supreme Court held in Cantwell v. Connecticut, the Fourteenth Amendment made the clause binding on states as well. (38)

While the Establishment Clause was originally written to protect against the establishment of a nationwide or statewide religion, most litigation focuses on issues such as whether prayer in schools or financial aid to religious organizations creates a governmental "establishment" of religion. (39) The courts have struggled with how to define the phrase "respecting an establishment" and have assessed the particular facts of each case to determine whether the Establishment Clause applies to bar a particular government act. (40)

b. The Lemon Test

Since 1971, the Court has consistently examined Establishment Clause cases using the Lemon test. In Lemon v. Kurtzman, the Court established a three prong test for evaluating the legality of Establishment Clause issues: "First, the statute must have a secular legislative purpose; second, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor

inhibits religion; finally, the statute must not foster an excessive government entanglement with religion." (41)

Following Lemon, the Court rendered various decisions concerning the constitutionality of statutes that provided funds to religiously affiliated schools. (42) Many of these decisions were contradictory to each other, leading to criticism of the Lemon test. Justices began expressing discontent and searched for an alternative test, however, they struggled to reach a consensus. (43)

In Agostini v. Felton, the Court sought to loosen the standards of the Lemon test. (44) "The Court stated that it would continue to apply the first prong of the test (the purpose prong), but the Court concluded that: 'What has changed ... is our understanding of the criteria used to assess whether aid to religion has an impermissible effect.'" (45) The Court made clear that not all government aid to religious schools was necessarily unacceptable and there was no excessive entanglement because the money that eventually would end up in religious schools did so "'only as a result of the genuinely independent and private choices of individuals." (46)

Further, in Mitchell v. Helms, the Court rejected any distinction between direct and indirect aid to religion and instead focused on whether the money was given neutrally. (47) "If aid to schools, even 'direct aid,' is neutrally available and, before reaching or benefiting any religious school, first passes through the hands (literally or figuratively) of numerous private citizens who are free to direct the aid elsewhere, the government has not provided any 'support of religion.'" (48) Due to Mitchell's neutrality test and Agostini's modification of the three-part Lemon test, it appears that the Court has taken a departure from its more stringent protection of the Establishment Clause. This allows for far more financial support to parochial schools than originally allowed under the Lemon test. (49)

c. School Vouchers

Although the Supreme Court did not unambiguously decide whether school vouchers violated the Establishment Clause until 2002 in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, the Court decided a number of cases involving tuition reimbursement schemes, which set the stage for voucher programs. (50)

One such case was Mueller v. Allen, which set a favorable precedent towards voucher programs. (51) Taxpayers brought suit against Minnesota parents who had taken tax deductions for various costs associated with sending their children to parochial schools. (52) The taxpayers argued that the Minnesota statute, which allowed taxpayers to compute their state income tax and deduct other expenses for tuition and textbooks, violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because it provided financial assistance to religious schools. (53)

The Court applied the Lemon three-part test and upheld the statute. (54) The Court found the tax deduction constitutional, as it served a secular interest of ensuring citizens have access to quality education despite primarily benefitting religious schools. (55) Moreover, the deduction was also available to parents of children at public schools. (56)

Almost twenty years after Mueller, in Zelman v. SimmonsHarris, the Court decided whether Ohio's school voucher program was constitutional. (57) The Ohio Pilot Project Scholarship Program provided tuition vouchers for certain students in underperforming schools within the Cleveland School District to attend other participating public or private schools. (58) Both religious and non-religious schools in the district were able to participate in the program. (59) Ohio taxpayers brought an action challenging the voucher portion of the scholarship program, claiming it violated the Establishment Clause by tunneling public money into religious institutions. (60)

The Court concluded the program was enacted for a valid purpose, namely providing educational assistance to underprivileged children in failing public school systems. (61) Therefore, it did not violate the Establishment Clause even though a majority of participating students were enrolled in religiously affiliated schools. (62) In the opinion, the Court emphasized the fact that the parents, and not the government, made the choice to send their children to a religious school. (63)

In 2011, the Supreme Court decided the most recent case involving school choice. (64) In Arizona Christian School v. Winn, taxpayers brought an action alleging Arizona's tuition tax credit violated the Establishment Clause. (65) Taxpayers contributed to student tuition organizations, which then used the contributions to provide scholarships to students attending private schools or parochial schools. (66) The taxpayer would then receive a tax credit up to 500 dollars of their annual tax liability. (67)

The Supreme Court ruled "taxpayers did not have legal standing to raise an Establishment Clause challenge to the program because the taxpayers contributing to STOs were spending their own money rather than funds the state had already collected." (68) While the Court did not rule on the merits of the case, they did suggest that "state-created tax relief programs involving private entities to distribute the funds" were likely to overcome Establishment Clause challenges. (69)

Satisfying the U.S. Constitution is only one obstacle voucher programs must overcome; in addition, the programs must comply with state law. In the words of Professor Martha McCarthy, "[s]tates are not obligated to fund such initiatives, and they may be precluded from doing so under more restrictive state constitutional provisions." (70)

In Locke v. Davey, (71) a college student sued the Governor and officials of Washington's higher education board alleging a state statute prohibiting the use of a state scholarship program to college students pursuing a degree in theology violated the Free Exercise Clause. (72) The Free Exercise Clause is the accompanying clause of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment; together they read "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religious beliefs, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ..." (73) The Court held the State's refusal to fund theological instruction was based on the State's own interest in avoiding the establishment of religion rather than enmity. (74) The Court in Davey supported the authority of states to be more stringent than required by the Establishment Clause in prohibiting state aid to religious institutions. (75)

These cases establish that despite opposition to voucher programs in federal court, there appears to be no federal constitutional bar to the implementation of voucher programs or tax credit. This has allowed voucher programs to expand across the country as a means of educational reform. Whether these programs are constitutional thus depends upon how state courts interpret state constitutional provisions.

2. Challenges in State Courts

Many state constitutions contain rights, limitations, and protections not enumerated in the Federal Constitution. As voucher programs must comply with both federal and state constitutional provisions to remain valid; various challenges to voucher programs have evolved in state courts. Most of these challenges can be divided into two categories: (1) allegations that voucher programs violate state religion clauses; and (2) allegations that voucher programs violate state education clauses. (76)

Over the last several decades, school vouchers or tax benefit plans have allowed students to use state funds for tuition in religious schools. However, "[a]lmost three-fourths of the states have explicit constitutional mandates precluding the use of public funds for religious purposes ('no aid' provisions), and most have prohibitions on compelling citizens to support religion ('compelled support' provisions)." (77) These state constitution religion clauses have provided voucher opponents another throughway for litigation, but outcomes vary on a state-by-state basis. (78)

Alternatively, voucher programs are challenged under education clauses that place a duty on the legislature to provide a uniform and adequate public school system for the state's citizens. (79) With varying success, state education clauses have become increasingly popular in school voucher and tax credit litigation. First, this Comment will discuss several state court decisions evaluating claims based on state religion clauses. Second, this Comment will discuss outcomes from education clause claims.

a. Challenges to State Religion Clauses

Various state courts have held voucher programs lawful under these state constitutional religion clauses. For instance, in 1998, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that the Milwaukee voucher program did not violate the State Constitution's

Establishment Clause. (80) The court noted that the crucial question under the state religion clause was '"not whether some benefit accrues to a religious institution as a consequence of the legislative program, but whether its principal or primary effect advances religion.'" (81) The following year, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the Cleveland voucher program under a similar holding that the program did not violate the Ohio Constitution's Establishment Clause. (82) Judge Pfeifer remarked the connection between the government and religion was "indirect" and depended only on a parent's choice to send their child to a religious institution. (83)

On the other hand, multiple courts have allowed states to prohibit voucher programs or tuition reimbursements for religious schools. In Vermont, the state terminated aid to a school district after it modified its policy to allow reimbursement of tuition for religiously affiliated schools. (84) Article Three of the Vermont Constitution states, '"That all persons have a natural and unalienable right, to worship Almighty God ... and that no person ought to, or of right can be compelled to attend any religious worship, or erect or support any place of worship, or maintain any minister, contrary to the dictates of conscience ...'" (85) The court held that the school district violated the constitutional provision when it did not place any restrictions on funding religious education. (86)

Similarly, a federal court upheld a Maine state statute excluding religious schools from its tuition reimbursement plan. (87) The court held Maine could exclude religious institutions from its program as Maine had interest in "concentrating limited state funds on its goal of providing secular education, avoiding entanglement, and allaying concerns about accountability that undoubtedly would accompany state oversight of parochial schools' curricula and policies ..." (88)

In the most recent state case, a New Hampshire court of appeals struck down a tax credit for businesses that contributed money to organizations that offered scholarships for students to defray education expenses. (89) The New Hampshire court reasoned that under the state tax credit program, the money was inevitably going towards educational expenses at religious schools without any constraints on how the money was used. (90) Therefore, the program violated the state constitution's equal protection clause. (91)

b. Challenges to State Education Clauses

In 2006, the Florida Supreme Court relied on the state constitution's education clause in striking down the voucher program as it redirected public dollars into separate private schools, reducing money available to public schools.. (92) The Florida Constitution holds that it is "a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders." (93) The constitution required the state legislature to provide a uniform and high quality system of free education to students within the state. (94) The court determined that the diversion of public money was not uniform and the program was in direct violation of the constitutional mandate. (95)

Most recently in Louisiana Federation of Teachers v. State, the Louisiana Supreme Court struck down the funding method of the state's voucher system. (96) At issue were two legislative devices enacted in 2012 that allowed students attending failing public schools to transfer to either private schools using the voucher program or another public school. (97) The funding for the voucher program, as well as a "course choice program," (98) were distributed via the State's Minimum Foundation Program. (99) The State argued that once a minimum amount of the fund is allocated to pay for regular public schools, it could then distribute funds in any way it saw fit, including to voucher recipients in private institutions. (100)

The Louisiana Supreme Court rejected the State's view and instead sided with the challengers. (101) The Court agreed that the provisions in the statutes undeniably rerouted funds from public to non-public schools. (102) The MFP funds were constitutionally required to be equally assigned to parish and city school systems, and allocations to public education were not optional. (103) The public school system would lose money needed to operate under the program. (104) The voucher program's funding was therefore invalid. (105) However, the court did not strike down the legislation authorizing vouchers and left the door open for the Administration to use other public funds to pay for the program. (106) Currently, there is more litigation pending against Louisiana's voucher program on separate grounds. (107) In Meredith v. Pence, the Indiana Supreme Court's decision departed from the Louisiana and Florida decisions. (108) The challengers in Meredith alleged that the program violated the state constitution education clause by supporting private education. (109) The Indiana Supreme Court, meticulously differentiated Indiana's Constitution from the decisions in Florida and Louisiana, finding small differences in the wording of its education clause to uphold the program. (110) The court reasoned that the clause presented two separate government duties. First, to "encourage by all suitable means, moral, intellectual, scientific, and agricultural improvement." (111) Second, to "provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition should be without charge, and equally open to all." (112)

Despite the fact that as many as sixty percent of Indiana's schoolchildren might eventually attend private schools under the voucher program, the court found no evidence this would result in the elimination of the public school system. (113) The court concluded, "so long as a 'uniform' public school system, 'equally open to all' and 'without charge,' is maintained, the General Assembly has fulfilled the duty imposed by the Education Clause." (114)

However, the legality of these voucher programs and tax deduction programs may rest more on the political climate in the state rather than the wording of the constitutional provisions. (115)

Courts in Wisconsin and Ohio allowed the participation of religious schools in voucher programs, despite the fact that the state constitutions banned public support for religion. (116) Alternatively, Maine and Vermont held the programs unconstitutional, even though Maine's own constitution did not explicitly prohibit aid to religion. (117) In the case of Indiana, perhaps the state's adoption of one of the most comprehensive voucher program to date played a significant role in the decision. (118) Despite the litigation challenges these programs have encountered, legislatures continue to adopt tax deduction plans and voucher programs. The trend towards privatizing public education has not been hindered by the litigation discussed above.

c. Litigation's Impact on Louisiana's Voucher Program

Despite uphill court battles, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal vowed to find funding for the voucher program. (119) After the Supreme Court ruling (120), the Governor found almost forty million dollars in the state budget to cover 8,000 enrolled students for the 2013-2014 school year. (121)

Since the inception of the program, the Governor has also found support through political allies from outside of Louisiana. U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor visited New Orleans twice in 2013: once in March to St. Mary's School and again in November to Good Sheppard School. (122) On both occasions, Cantor praised the educational reforms put in place by Governor Jindal and later went on to use Louisiana as an example in his arguments for the school choice movement. (123) In early January of 2014, Cantor gave a speech at the Brookings Institute, (124) where he discussed a bill that sought to spend federal money on vouchers. (125) Cantor planned to ask the Senate to pass the bill, which would let states use federal money to educate children of low-income families in failing schools. (126) Cantor claims his visits to New Orleans furthered his belief in the school choice movement. (127)

The movement towards privatizing the public education system via state voucher programs shows no signs of slowing down. Specifically, Louisiana has continued to use vouchers to enroll thousands of students in private schools despite judicial setbacks concerning financing. However, the implementation of the program has not been without obstacles. Primarily, there is a large problem with holding private schools accountable for student's performance as well as determining where taxpayer dollars are being spent.


1. Balancing Flexibility and Accountability

The goal of voucher programs is simple: improve education. Proponents argue vouchers force private schools and public schools to compete for voucher money, eventually forcing public schools to elevate their performance. (128) Secondly, they argue by giving parents more discretion to choose the best school for their child, parental involvement increases and improves the child's overall education. (129)

The aspirations of these programs have been accomplished in other parts of the world. Socially Democratic Sweden is currently experiencing a free-market education transformation. (130) Beginning in 1994, the Swedish government began reforms that allowed anyone who satisfied basic criteria to open a school with government funds. (131) The Swedish government would pay the new school between 8,000 and 12,000 dollars for each child, approximately the same cost the country would have spent on educating the child. (132) Sweden required each new school to serve children on a "first-come first-serve basis" and could not require a religious affiliation or entrance exam. (133) While the reforms were initially controversial, they have proven to be extremely popular. In the fourteen years following the reforms, private school attendance has increased from less than one percent to more than ten percent of Swedish children. (134)

At the start of the program, the fear was that most private schools would focus on either religious or foreign language subjects. (135) Instead, the program led to the emergence of "chain schools," schools that have opened in multiple locations with a similar curriculum in each school. (136) One of these programs in Sweden, "Knowledge Schools," literally compares itself to McDonalds, as they tell their teachers '"it is more important to do things the same way than to do them well'". (137)

These schools emphasize a "do it yourself' style of education that is free of state interference. At Knowledge Schools, each child works at their own level and creates a curriculum based on which classes they may need to spend more or less time in. (138) Further, parents have a stronger hand in their child's education, as they are able to receive updates online regarding their child's progress and what is being studied. (139) The appeal of these programs is that parents can choose which school is right for their child instead of being forced to send them to a public school with a teaching style that does not compliment the student's learning style.

However, the same theory that was so successful in Sweden is having drastically different results here in the United States. In Washington D.C., for example, hundreds of students are "using... vouchers to attend schools that are unaccredited or in unconventional settings, where the government has no say over curriculum, quality, or management." (140) Several schools operate around philosophies that are unconventional. For instance, as noted in the Economist, "'[there is] a family-run K12 school operating out of a storefront, a Nation of Islam school based in a converted Deanwood residence, and a school built around the philosophy of a Bulgarian psychotherapist.'" (141) This leads to the conclusion that free market competition alone will not produce high-quality learning. (142)

There needs to be a balance in the voucher programs to ensure that the children obtaining public money for their education not only learn things deemed useful to society, but are also participating in programs that are more individualized towards that child's needs. Voucher programs suffer from the same underlying flaw, they rely too heavily on the free market, without maintaining the accountability we expect from our education system. Parental choice alone has proven not to be enough because parents lack information to choose the best schools. As stated by Kevin Carey in The Atlantic, "they trust parental choice in a free market to, by itself, ensure that students will attend good schools." (143) Even Milton Friedman, the brainchild of vouchers, thought this was a bad idea. He proposed that vouchers should be limited to "approved institutions," or institutions whose curriculum was accepted by a governing body. (144) Without some additional control or reform to the current voucher system, it may inadvertently create more educational problems than it solves.

In Louisiana, the state has faced accountability problems regarding student performance and taxpayer funds since the inception of the voucher school program in 2012. Data shows that taxpayers are paying the state to place students in failing private schools rather than failing public schools. (145) Without stricter standards, countless dollars will be wasted on sub-par education and the state will continue to fail the students.

2. Louisiana's Accountability Problem

The Louisiana voucher program began as a "state-run pilot program" in 2008, but has grown quickly since the legislature passed an expansion bill in (2012). (146) After passing the expansion, the legislature gave John White, the State Superintendent of Education, just a few short months to create an accountability plan. (147) The prime concern for many education advocates was that neither the legislature nor the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education would co-author any of the accountability measures with White. (148) '"This is all being worked out at the (education) department in conversations with the governor's office and the private school leaders and various other groups,'" said Robert Travis Scott, president of the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, an independent watchdog group. (149) '"But we're not aware of any public process or forum or BESE meeting or hearing that's going to address this.'" (150)

Many people, including Senator Mary Landrieu and Leslie Jacobs (an active voice in the charter school movement) were concerned about the lack of government oversight. (151) They pushed Mr. White to develop a rigorous set of accountability standards to protect the students who would enroll and the taxpayers who would fund the program. (152)

In July of 2012, Louisiana's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved the new set of academic standards for private schools participating in Louisiana's expanded voucher program. (153) The bill required private schools with more than forty voucher students in grade three or above to earn a performance score of at least 50 on a 150-point scale, a number mostly determined by test scores. (154) The school will

be deemed "failing" if it scores below a 50; after two years, the BESE would then have the power to issue consequences to failing schools, such as preventing additional student enrollment in that particular school--although the school would keep public funding and students already enrolled may remain in the school. (155) Further, "schools will not be penalized for poor scores on state standardized tests if they have fewer than forty voucher students enrolled in the upper elementary or secondary grades. Those schools can continue to receive state funds even if their voucher students fail to demonstrate basic competency in math, reading, science and social studies." (156) Only a quarter of the schools participating in the program in 2012-2013 had forty or more voucher students, meaning only those schools would face consequences if deemed failing. (157)

In November of 2013, more than a full year after the above accountability measures were passed, performance scores for participating schools were released. (158) Based on test scores, at least forty-five percent of the students in Louisiana's voucher program attended schools in the D to F range. (159) However, the full impact of the program could not be assessed. (160) Younger children in the program were not tested and there was no way for the state to calculate a reliable score for those schools; as a result, the state released scores for only one-fifth of the schools in the program. (161)

Of the twenty-two schools for which the state released scores, a majority (13) were in the F range; 5 were in D range; 3 in C range; 1 in B range; and 0 in the A range. (162) Redemptorist Elementary in Baton Rouge, scored 18.6 on the 150 point scale. (163) Not only was this the lowest scoring school in the program but even compared to public schools, Redemptorist ranked as the second worst school in the state. (164)

Academic scores for the 2013-2014 school year were released in November of 2014. (165) Fifty-six percent of voucher students who took the LEAP or ILEAP exams failed, in comparison to thirty-one percent of public school children. (166) A majority of schools with a large voucher enrollment (forty or more students in grade three or above) again scored below fifty on the 150-point scale. (167) While John White stated the results showed a "'long-term trend of improvement[,]'" the results reveal most children in the program are leaving failing public schools to attend failing private schools. (168)

Besides placing children into more failing schools, a major flaw in the voucher program is that it attracts the worst performing private schools to enroll in the program. Many voucher schools immediately increased enrollment by opening more seats to obtain the public funds provided by the state through the voucher program. (169) Leading many critics to call the program a "money grab." (170) Clearly, many schools with low enrollment numbers took advantage of the lax standards in the voucher program to encourage enrollment of children from public schools. Ironically, the state is prolonging what the free market would have eventually done: close the school for low enrollment or poor results.

Besides dismally low performance accountability, voucher schools are not being closely watched with regard to the public funds. In the first year of the program, the state was generally unable to track voucher school spending. (171) Daryl Purpera, a legislative auditor, stated that only three of the 118 participating private schools kept separate records of public dollars, making complete auditing at most schools almost impossible. (172) Ironically, one of the three schools who did keep a separate account, New Living Word in Ruston, overbilled the state $395,000 and was subsequently removed from the program. (173) If the school had simply mingled the public funds in the same account as its regular students the school would most likely been able to remain in the program, as rigorous auditing would not have taken place. This begs the question as to how many unaudited schools were overbilling the state and wasting taxpayer dollars.

Despite a majority of schools not creating a separate account for public funds, legislative auditors still found a variety of other reporting errors regarding taxpayer money. Five schools requested state money for families that exceeded the income limit and "[a]lmost one third of schools charged voucher students anywhere from $5 to $5,566 more than they charged private-paying students." (174) Clearly, these schools needed set criteria for accounting purposes prior to receiving millions of taxpayer dollars.


The above report makes it clear that "the state should 'develop formal criteria for determining whether participating schools have both the academic and physical capacity to serve the number of scholarship students they request.'" (175) However, given the current interpretation of federal and state constitutions, and the charged political climate, challenges in Louisiana's public education system will not be solved in the near future. Thus, I offer several solutions, based on charter school accountability plans that aim to improve education without redesigning the entire system.

1. Look to Charter Schools

Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, New Orleans put forth the most comprehensive charter school system in the nation. (176) While charter schools have not been implemented without controversy, (177) the voucher school program can improve by looking to the charter system's accountability measures. The National Association of Charter School Authorizers ("NACSA") is a nationally recognized organization whose members include the largest charter authorizers in the country. (178) Authorizers are organizations designated to approve, monitor, renew, and close charter schools in each individual state. (179) From 2005 to 2012, Louisiana's Board of Secondary and Elementary Education used NACSA to approve the state's charter schools and set guidelines and standards for those schools before renewing their contracts with the state or local school board. (180)

2. NACSA's Principles for Quality Charter School Authorizing

NACSA frequently releases its Principles and Standards for Quality Charter School Authorizing, a guideline for authorizers to ensure charter schools are created with high standards. (181) NACSA is so instrumental in the Charter School field that Louisiana uses NACSA's principles as the standard for assessing any of its charter applications. (182) Further, their publication is considered the official standard to assess charter schools not just in Louisiana, but in many other states as well. (183) The NACSA publication offers a reliable guideline for voucher school programs to enhance accountability; ensuring private schools entering the program offer a better education then their failing public school counterparts and enabling parents to make a better-informed decision.

The 2012 Principles and Standards publication lays out several key standards that authorizers should use to evaluate Charter Schools. Some are broad, such as their first principle: to foster excellent charter schools that meet identified needs and clearly prioritize a commitment to excellence in education. (184) Others are more specific, such as the approval criteria and the rigorous decision-making associated with the application process. (185) In its report, NACSA states that approval "[r]equires all applicants to present a clear and compelling mission, a quality educational program, a solid business plan, effective governance and management structures and systems, founding team members demonstrating diverse and necessary capabilities, and clear evidence of the applicant's capacity to execute its plan successfully." (186) Charters therefore are only granted to applicants that demonstrate competence in all aspects stated in the above approval criteria.

Once a school is approved, the publication mandates that authorizers "implement[] a comprehensive performance accountability and compliance monitoring system" to ensure schools continue to meet the standards in their charters. (187) An independent auditor must financially audit schools annually and the authorizer is required to provide an annual report to each school summarizing its performance. (188) The authorizer grants renewal of a charter only to schools that achieve the targets stated in their charter contract and in some instances a charter could be revoked for extreme under performance. (189)

3. Applying these Principles to Louisiana's Voucher Program

Again, the point of vouchers is to enable a parent to choose the school that is right for their child instead of being forced to send their children to an underperforming school. Louisiana's current program does not enable a parent to make an informed choice, as there is an ineffectual evaluation of private schools prior to entering the voucher program. The guidelines set in the NACSA publication are proven methods that can be applied to Louisiana's voucher program.

a. Create an Application Process with Third-Party, Independent Oversight

Currently, in order to receive state funding private or religiously affiliated schools must be confirmed by the BESE and complete a Brumfield vs. Dodd application proving the school does not use racially discriminatory policies. (190) To achieve BESE approval, "schools must offer an education comparable to the quality of public schools" and then once approved they are allowed to participate in the voucher program. (191) Louisiana should create a stronger application process for private schools entering the voucher programs. However, the state should not oversee this application process. Instead, it should hire a third-party, non-partisan, independent group or organization similar to NACSA. This group would set higher standards that private schools must meet in order to participate in the program. Third party independent oversight could place Louisiana at the forefront of voucher accountability, leading to more states possibly adopting similar third-party regulations and an overall improvement in education. Further this would take the burden off the BESE who already oversees most of the state's public schools.

Similar to a charter, the application process for vouchers would be evaluated with onsite interviews, standardized test scores, and parent testimonials to satisfy the child's academic well-being. The state could then publish its findings on its website or send them directly to all parents involved in the voucher program. Parents will be better equipped to make a sound choice for their children if they have direct access to state findings and assurance private schools in the program exceed the standards at their previous failing public school.

b. Develop Prior Goals that Schools Must Keep to Remain in the Program

Prior to allowing voucher schools to accept enrollment, the schools should be required to maintain academic and financial goals that are set by the state and its program members. Like a charter, if the private school failed to meet its goals, the school could be released from the program. This would incentivize schools to ensure the best quality education for the children attending it. Currently, the voucher schools are judged on a 150-point scale, and if the school scores below a 50 (considered "failing") the state has the authority to stop enrolling students there. However, this leaves students stuck at C or D schools that have no incentive to improve. By setting standards for these schools prior to enrollment, they will be accountable for improving their standards. If they fail to meet their standards, the flow of public money would stop.

c. Develop More Stringent Accounting Rules

Lastly, the state needs to create standard accounting procedures each participating school must use in order for proper auditing to take place. NACSA requires annual financial audits of each charter school, and Louisiana has attempted a similar process with voucher schools. However, as mentioned above, the accounting practices in the first year of the voucher program were entirely inadequate. A large part of this was due to the fact that most schools did not track their public dollars separately. If the state created uniform procedures, this problem could be remedied, leading to fewer schools overcharging the state. Accounting practices should be made clear in the application process, so these private schools will be held accountable for the public funds they receive. Again, placing this financial requirement in a document prior to allowing these schools to enroll students is essential.


Voucher school proponents must acknowledge the current program is failing taxpayers and most importantly students. The voucher programs cannot exist in a purely free market and reforms are clearly needed. It is very difficult for parents to choose among voucher options for their children, when the schools are not properly assessed when entering the program. Schools vying for public funds are likely to present a self-inflated view, and parents need un-biased information about school performance (preferably from an independent third party) in order to make better choices for their children.

Clearly, the state should grant the "approved" status Friedman envisioned over a half a century ago. Mirroring voucher system reform on the charter school system would enable the parent to make the best choice to ensure their children receive a sound education while respecting the school's authority over its day-to-day operations.

(1.) Milton Friedman, The Role of Government in Education, in Economics and the Public Interest, 123 (1955), available at http//www. Choice/The-Role-of-Government-in-Education-%281995%29.aspx.

(2.) Id.

(3.) Kevin Carey, How School Choice Became an Explosive Issue, The Atlantic (Jan. 24, 2012), explosive- issue/251897.

(4.) Id.

(5.) Id.

(6.) Id.

(7.) "Thirteen states created or expanded tuition tax credits, private school scholarships or traditional vouchers in 2013. Eight states did so in 2012 and seven states in 2011." Elaine Povich, Tax Dollars for Private School Tuition Gain in States, The Pew Charitable Trusts (Aug. 6, 2013), tuition-gain-in-states-85899495243.

(8.) Martha McCarthy, The Legal Status of School Vouchers: The Saga Continues, 297 Ed. Law Rep. 655 (2013).

(9.) Id.

(10.) Id. at 655-56.

(11.) Id

(12.) Louisiana Scholarship Program, La. Dep't of Educ., (last visited Sept. 10, 2014).

(13.) See infra Part II.

(14.) Suzanne Hansen, School Vouchers: The Answer to a Failing Public School System, 23 Hamline J. Pub. L. & Pol'y 73, 75 (2001); Carey, supra note 3 ("Students participating in the longest-lived and most well-studied voucher experiment, in Milwaukee, score no better on standardized tests than similar students who attended regular public schools.").

(15.) Carey, supra note 3. For more information on charter schools, see Louisiana Charter Schools at a Glance, LA. DEP'T OF EDUC., (last visited Sept. 10, 2014).

(16.) See infra Part II.

(17.) See infra Part II. The Louisiana Scholarship Program is Louisiana's voucher program. "130 nonpublic schools--nearly one-third of eligible schools--are participating in the program in 2014-2015. To be eligible for a scholarship, students must have a family income that does not exceed 250% of the federal poverty guidelines and must be entering kindergarten or enrolled in a public school with a C, D, or F grade. Scholarship students must take the same assessments as students in public schools. Student achievement on these assessments is used to determine the status of a school's continued participation in the program." Louisiana Scholarship Program, La. Dep't of Educ., (last visited October 13, 2014).

(18.) See Danielle Dreilinger, Louisiana School Voucher Program Needs Better Oversight, Auditor Says, NOLA.COM (Dec. 16, 2013),

(19.) Danielle Dreilinger, Half of Louisiana's Voucher Students at D or F Schools in Program's First Year, Data Shows, NOLA.COM (Nov. 28, 2013), ml.

(20.) See Carey, supra note 3.

(21.) Id.

(22.) Id.

(23.) Id.

(24.) Id.

(25.) See Carey, supra note 3.

(26.) See Carey, supra note 3.

(27.) Id.

(28.) Id.

(29.) These foundations include: The Carnegie Corporation of New York; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; and the Walton Family Foundation.

(30.) Sarah D. Sparks, Ed. Funders Giving More to Same Few, Studies Show, Education Week (May 7, 2013),

(31.) For more on arguments for voucher programs, see Hansen, supra note 14.

(32.) McCarthy, supra note 8, at 656.

(33.) Carey, supra note 3.

(34.) See Mueller v. Allen, 463 U.S. 388 (1983); Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 536 U.S. 639 (2002); Ariz. Christian Sch. Tuition Org. v. Winn, 131 S. Ct. 1436 (2011); La. Fed. of Teachers v. State, 2013-0120 (La. 5/7/13); 118 So.3d 1033.

(35.) See infra Part 1.1 for further explanation.

(36.) See Mueller, 463 U.S. 388; Simmons-Harris, 536 U.S. 639; Winn, 131 S. Ct. 1436; Locke v. Davey, 540 U.S. 712 (2004).

(37.) U.S. Const. amend. I.

(38.) See Cantwell v. Connecticut., 310 U.S. 296 (1940).

(39.) Russel L. Weaver & Donald E. Lively, Understanding The First Amendment, 289-321 (4th ed. 2012) (citing Everson v. Bd. of Educ. of Ewing Tp., 330 U.S. 1 (1947); Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971)).

(40.) For a full explanation, see Weaver & Lively, supra note 39, at 289-321.

(41.) Lemon, 403 U.S. at 602, 612-613 (1971) (citations omitted). In Lemon, the case involved a Rhode Island law that authorized state officials to supplement the salaries of teachers of secular subjects by paying the teachers directly an amount not exceeding 15% of their salary. Id. The Act required that educators teach only those subjects offered in the public schools, and use only teaching materials used in the public schools. Id. All teachers who applied for benefits under the Act taught in Roman Catholic schools. Id. The Supreme Court struck down the law. Id.

(42.) Weaver & Lively, supra note 39, at 294-97 (citing Meek v. Pittenger, 421 U.S. 349 (1975); Wolman v. Walter, 443 U.S. 229 (1977); Levitt v. Comm, for Pub. Educ. & Religious Liberty, 413 U.S. 472 (1973)).

(43.) Weaver & Lively, supra note 39, at 299-309 (citing Agostini v. Felton, 521 U.S. 203 (1997); Aguilar v. Felton, 473 U.S. 402 (1985); Mitchell v. Helms, 530 U.S. 793 (2000)).

(44.) Agostini, 521 U.S. 203.

(45.) Weaver & Lively, supra note 39, at 303 (citing Agostini, 521 U.S. 203 at 223).

(46.) Agostini, 521 U.S. 203 at 226 (citing Witters v. Washington Dep't of Servs. for the Blind, 474 U.S. 481, 487 (1986)).

(47.) Mitchell v. Helms, 530 U.S. 793 (2000).

(48.) Mitchell, 530 U.S. at 795 (citing Witters, 474 U.S. at 481, 489).

(49.) Weaver & Lively, supra note 39, at 307.

(50.) Id. At 309 (citing Mueller v. Allen, 463 U.S. 388 (1983); Ariz. Christian Sch. Tuition Org. v. Winn, 131 S. Ct. 1436 (2011)).

(51.) Mueller, 463 U.S. at 388.

(52.) Id.

(53.) Id.

(54.) Id.

(55.) Id.

(56.) Mueller, 463 U.S. at 400.

(57.) Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 536 U.S. 639 (2002).

(58.) Id at 643-44.

(59.) Mat 645.

(60.) Id at 648.

(61.) Id. at 649.

(62.) Zelman, 536 U.S. at 652-53.

(63.) Id. at 649.

(64.) Ariz. Christian Sch. Tuition Org. v. Winn, 131 S. Ct. 1436 (2011).

(65.) Id.

(66.) Id.

(67.) Id.

(68.) McCarthy, supra note 8, at 659 (citing Ariz. Christian Sch. Tuition Org. v. Winn, 131 S. Ct. 1436, 1447 (2011)).

(69.) Id.

(70.) Id. at 656-60.

(71.) Locke v. Davey, 540 U.S. 712 (2004).

(72.) Id. at 718.

(73.) U.S. CONST, amend. I.

(74.) Davey, 540 U.S. at 720-22.

(75.) Id at 723-25

(76.) McCarthy, supra note 8, at 660.

(77.) Id.

(78.) See infra notes 80-91 for a discussion on various results in the states.

(79.) Bush v. Holmes, 919 So. 2d 392, 397-98 (Fla. 2006).

(80.) Jackson v. Benson, 578 N.W.2d 602 (Wis. 1998).

(81.) Id. at 604, 621 (citations omitted).

(82.) Simmons-Harris v. Goff, 711 N.E.2d 203 (Ohio 1999).

(83.) Id. at 209.

(84.) Chittenden Town Sch. Dist. v. Dep't of Educ., 738 A.2d 539, 543 (Vt. 1999).

(85.) Id. at 547 (emphasis omitted) (quoting VT. Const, art. 3).

(86.) Id. at 562-63.

(87.) Eulitt v. Maine Dep't of Educ., 386 F.3d 344, 356 (1st Cir. 2004).

(88.) Id. at 356.

(89.) See McCarthy, supra note 8, at 662 (citing Duncan v. State, No. 219-2012-CV-00121 (N.H. Super. Ct. Jan. 11, 2013)).

(90.) Id.

(91.) Id.

(92.) Id. at 663 (citing Bush v. Holmes, 919 So. 2d 392, 412 (Fla. 2006)).

(93.) Fla. Const, art IX, [section]1.

(94.) See McCarthy, supra note 8, at 663 (citing Bush v. Holmes, 919 So. 2d 392, 412 (Fla. 2006)).

(95.) Holmes, 919 So. 398.

(96.) La. Fed'n of Teachers v. State, 2013-0120 (La. 5/17/13); 118 So. 3d 1033.

(97.) Id. at 1037-38.

(98.) A program that diverted public funds to trade schools and other non-typical forms of education. La. Fed'n of Teachers, 188 So. 3d at 1037-38.

(99.) "Under the Minimum Foundation Program, Louisiana annually adopts a formula to equitably allocate funding for education to school districts. Funding through this program is provided to school districts as a block grant. After satisfying all mandated requirements, school districts have the flexibility to spend the funding to meet the needs of their schools and students." Minimum Foundation Program, DEPT OF EDUC., http://www.louisianabelieves.conyfunding/minimum-foundationprogram (last visited Nov. 3, 2014).

(100.) McCarthy, supra note 8, at 665 (citing La. Fed'n of Teachers, 118 So. 3d at 1053-54).

(101.) Id. (citing La. Fed'n of Teachers, 118 So. 3d at 1054).

(102.) Id. (citing La. Fed'n of Teachers, 118 So. 3d at 1055-56).

(103.) Id. (citing La. Fed'n of Teachers, 118 So. 3d at 1050-51).

(104.) Id. (citing La. Fed'n of Teachers, 118 So. 3d at 1043).

(105.) Id. at 665 (citing La. Fed'n of Teachers, 118 So. 3d at 71).

(106.) La. Fed'n of Teachers, 118 So. 3d at 1066-71.

(107.) In a case currently being decided in Federal District Court, the Justice Department has brought suit against the state of Louisiana to block 2014-2015 vouchers for students in public school systems under federal desegregation orders. Under the lawsuit the state would be barred from assigning students in those school systems to private schools unless a federal judge agreed to the move. The primary argument of the Justice Department is that letting students leave for private schools can disrupt the racial balance in public schools. In 2013 the Justice Department softened its suit against Louisiana's school voucher program and dropped its request for injunctive relief. The Justice Department still wants to monitor the program via the court but it no longer is looking to bar the state from issuing some vouchers without court permission. Governor Jindal and State Education Superintendent John White have looked at this as a victory for the state. See Danielle Dreilinger,

U.S. Government Sues to Block Vouchers in Some Louisiana School Systems, NOLA.COM (August 24, 2013), 20134/08/us_government_files_to_block_s.html.

(108.) Meredith v. Pence, 984 N.E.2d 1213 (Ind. 2013).

(109.) Id at 1217.

(110.) McCarthy, supra note 8, at 667 (citing Pence, 984 N.E.2d at 1220-22).

(111.) Id. (emphasis omitted) (citing IND. CONST, art. 8, [section]1).

(112.) Id. (emphasis omitted) (citing IND. CONST, art. 8, [section]1).

(113.) Id. (citing Pence, 984 N.E.2d at 1222-23).

(114.) Pence, 984 N.E.2d at 1223.

(115.) McCarthy, supra note 8, at 670.

(116.) Id. (citing Simmons-Harris v. Goff, 711 N.E. 2d 203 (Ohio 1999); Jackson v. Benson, 578 N.W.2d 602 (Wis. 1998)).

(117.) McCarthy, supra note 8, at 670 (citing Eulitt v. Maine Dep't of Educ., 386 F.3d 344 (1st. Cir. 2004); Chittenden Town Sch. Dist. v. Dep't of Educ., 738 A.2d 539 (Vt. 1999)).

(118.) Pence, 984 N.E.2d at 1222-23.

(119.) In a newspaper article written in May of 2013, Governor Jindal is quoted as saying that although he was disappointed that the funding mechanism was rejected, he is committed to making sure the program continues and will find a way to fund it through the budget. See Danielle Dreilinger, Jindal Promises to Find Voucher Funding after High Court Strikes It Down, NOLA.COM (May 7, 2013), ml.

(120.) La. Fed'n of Teachers v. State, 2013-0120 (La. 5/17/13; 118 So. 3d 1033.

(121.) Traci G. Lee, Jindal Won't give up the Fight for Vouchers, MSNBC.COM (Sept. 18, 2013) vouchers.

(122.) Lauren McGaughy, Eric Cantor touts Gov. Jindal's Voucher Policies during New Orleans Visit, NOLA.COM (Mar. 8, 2013), 2013/03/eric_cantor_touts_gov_jindals.html; Sarah Tan, After Visit to New Orleans Voucher School, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to Tout School Choice, NOLA.COM (Jan. 8, 2014), http// html [hereinafter Cantor to Tout School Choice].

(123.) "The Virginia Republican, who laid out his support for vouchers during a January speech at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, said his visit to New Orleans only strengthened his belief in school choice. 'I've seen today proof that the scholarship program that the governor put into place is working,' Cantor said. 'Parents do have and should have the right to quality education for their kids.' McGaughy, supra note 122 (emphasis omitted).

(124.) "The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC. Our mission is to conduct high-quality, independent research and, based on that research, to provide innovative, practical recommendations that advance three broad goals: Strengthen American democracy; Foster the economic and social welfare, security and opportunity of all Americans; and Secure a more open, safe, prosperous and cooperative international system." See About Brookings, The Brookings Institution, (last visited Dec. 20, 2014).

(125.) Lauren McGaughy, Eric Cantor touts Gov. Jindal's Voucher Policies during New Orleans Visit, NOLA.COM (Mar. 8, 2013), 2013/03/eric_cantor_touts_gov_jindals.html.

(126.) Id.

(127.) Id.

(128.) Hansen, supra note 14, at 75-76.

(129.) Id. at 76.

(130.) Private Education: The Swedish Model, The Economist (June 12, 2008), [hereinafter The Swedish Model].

(131.) Id.

(132.) Id.

(133.) Id.

(134.) Id.

(135.) The Swedish Model, supra note 130.

(136.) Id.

(137.) Id. (Per Ledin, the operator of a chain school in Sweden, stated, '"We do not mind being compared to McDonald's.... If we're religious about anything, it's standardization. We tell our teachers it is more important to do things the same way than to do them well.'").

(138.) The Swedish Model, supra note 130.

(139.) Id.

(140.) Romney Had One Great Idea Obama Should Keep Alive, The Economist (Nov. 24, 2012),

(141.) Id.

(142.) Id. ("This leads Matthew Yglesias of Slate to make an important and overlooked point: the idea that market competition alone will produce high-quality learning is fallacious. One need only look at the market for snack food, which is rather tasty but not very healthy, to see this.").

(143.) Carey, supra note 3.

(144.) Id.

(145.) Danielle Dreilinger, Half of Louisiana's Voucher Students at D or F Schools in Program's First Year, Data Shows, NOLA.COM (Nov. 28, 2013), ml; see also Danielle Dreilinger, Louisiana Voucher Schools Scores Remain Low in 2014, NOLA.COM (Nov. 3, 2014), http://www.nola.eom/education/mdex.ssi/2014/11/ ml ("Less than half of the Louisiana voucher students who took the LEAP and iLEAP exams passed this year: 44 percent, according to Education Department data released Monday. In comparison, 69 percent of public school students passed those exams statewide, with 67 percent in Jefferson, 63 percent in New Orleans and 62 percent in East Baton Rouge.").

(146.) Andrew Vanacore, As Private School Vouchers Expand in New Orleans, Eyes Turn Toward State for Accountability Plan, NOLA.COM (July 2, 2012),

(147.) Id.

(148.) Andrew Vanacore, As Private School Vouchers Expand in New Orleans, Eyes Turn Toward State for Accountability Plan, NOLA.COM (July 2, 2012),

(149.) Id

(150.) Id.

(151.) Id

(152.) Id.

(153.) Andrew Vanacore, Plan for Holding Private Schools Accountable in Voucher Program Wins Board Approval, NOLA.COM (July 24, 2012), ml.

(154.) Andrew Vanacore, Plan for Holding Private Schools Accountable in Voucher Program Wins Board Approval, NOLA.COM (July 24, 2012), ml; Danielle Dreilinger, Louisiana Voucher School Scores Remain Low in 2014, NOLA.COM (Nov. 3, 2014), ml; School Letter Grades, LA. Dep't of Educ., (last visited Nov. 11, 2014) ("Since 1999, the state has issued School Performance Scores for public schools, which are based on student achievement data. To more clearly communicate the quality of school performance to families and the public, Louisiana adopted letter grades (A-F) [based on School Performance Scores in 2010]. All schools with sufficient data receive school performance scores. Elementary schools (K-6): 100 percent of the school grade is based on student achievement on annual assessments

in English language arts, math, science, and social studies.... Middle schools (7-8): 95 percent of the school grade is based on student achievement on annual assessments with the final 5 percent based on credits earned through the end of students' 9th grade year.... High schools (9-12): Half of the school grade is based on student achievement (25 percent on the ACT and 25 percent on End-of-Course assessments). Half of the school grade is based on graduation (25 percent on the graduation index, which rewards achievements like Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exam credit, and 25 percent on the cohort graduation rate....)).

(155.) Danielle Dreilinger, Half of Louisiana's Voucher Students at D or F Schools in Program's First Year, Data Shows, NOLA.COM (Nov. 28, 2013), ml.

(156.) Stephanie Simon, Louisiana Sets Rules for Landmark School Voucher Program, REUTERS.COM (July 23, 2012),

(157.) Danielle Dreilinger, Half of Louisiana's Voucher Students at D or F Schools in Programs First Year, Data Shows, NOLA.COM (Nov. 28, 2013), ml.

(158.) Id.

(159.) Id.

(160.) Id.

(161.) Danielle Dreilinger, Half of Louisiana's Voucher Students at D or F Schools in Program's First Year, Data Shows, NOLA.COM (Nov. 28, 2013), http://www.nola.eom/education/index.ssf/2013/11/ ml.

(162.) Id.

(163.) Id.

(164.) Id.

(165.) Id.

(166.) Danielle Dreilinger, Half of Louisiana's Voucher Students at D or F Schools in Program's First Year, Data Shows, NOLA.COM (Nov. 28, 2013), ml.

(167.) Id.

(168.) Id.

(169.) Danielle Dreilinger, Louisiana School Voucher Program Needs Better Oversight, Auditor Says, N0LA.COM (Dec. 16, 2013),

(170.) Danielle Dreilinger, Louisiana School Voucher Program Needs Better Oversight, Auditor Says, NOLA.COM (Dec. 16, 2013), profile_school_voucher_pr.html.

(171.) Id.

(172.) Id.

(173.) Id.

(174.) Id.

(175.) Danielle Dreilinger, Louisiana School Voucher Program Needs Better Oversight, Auditor Says, NOLA.COM (Dec. 16, 2013),

(176.) Charter School Performance in Louisiana, CTR. FOR RES. ON EDUC. outcomes 38 (Aug. 8, 2013), (Almost eighty percent of public schools students in New Orleans attend charter schools.).

(177.) Joy Resmovits, Charter Schools Continue Dramatic Growth Despite Controversies, THE HUFFINGTON POST (Dec. 10, 2013),

(178.) About NACSA, Nat'l Ass'n of Charter Sch. Authorizers, (last visited Sept. 18, 2014).

(179.) Id.

(180.) Danielle Dreilinger, National Charter School Group Challenges Louisiana Education Department, NOLA.COM (Aug. 13, 2013),,'national_eh arter_school_group.htm 1. In 2013, NACSA chose not to reapply as the third party who evaluated charter school applications. NACSA decided not to reapply because it wanted to devote its time to regions where the chartering process was just getting started. Id. The company claimed that the Louisiana Department of Education pressured NACSA to change its recommendations on multiple occasions. Id. NACSA however still reviews charter applications for the Orleans Parish School Board. Id.

(181.) Principles & Standards for Quality Charter School Authorizing, N AT'L Ass'n of Charter Sch. Authorizers 2 (2012),'publicationsyT'rinciples.Sta ndards.2012_pub.pdf [hereinafter Standards for Quality Charter School Authorizing.

(182.) In the 2013 Louisiana House Bill no. 542, the bill text describes education accountability as relative to charter schools. The bill requires the state board to "engage in an application review process that complies with the latest Principles and Standards for Quality Charter School Authorizing, as promulgated by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, and shall provide for an independent evaluation of the charter proposal by a third party possessing education, organizational, legal and financial expertise." H.B. 542, 2013 Leg., Reg. Sess. (La. 2013).

(183.) About NACSA, Nat'l Ass'n of Charter Sch. Authorizers, (last visited Dec. 20, 2014).

(184.) Standards for Quality Charter School Authorizing, supra note 181 at 8.

(185.) Id. at 13.

(186.) Id.

(187.) Id. at 17 (NACSA standards indicate that an authorizer may "visit[] each school as appropriate and necessary for collecting data that cannot be obtained otherwise and in accordance with the contract, while ensuring that the frequency, purposes, and methods of such visits respect school autonomy.").

(188.) Standards for Quality Charter School Authorizing, supra note 181 at 17, 19.

(189.) Id. at 20.

(190.) Nonpublic Schools, LA. DEP'T OF EDUC., http://www.louisianabelieves.coni/schools/nonpublic-schools (last visited Nov. 19, 2014).

(191.) Id.
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