Experts Praise Efforts to Extend School Choice in New Orleans

June 12, 2008
Dan Miller

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal neared final approval Thursday for a $10 million 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.

Experts in education contacted by The Heartland Institute enthusiastically praised the program and noted New Orleans joins a growing list of cities that have embraced vouchers as a way to increase school choice.

The following statements are available for your use in related news stories or editorials. You may quote from the following or contact the experts directly for further comment.

"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."

Neal P. McCluskey

Associate Director

Center for Educational Freedom

Cato Institute

Washington, DC


"Although opponents of this measure say its estimated $10 million cost would be better spent on public schools, Louisiana's public schools already receive almost $6 billion--more than $8,500 per student--and yet many public schools in New Orleans are in academic crisis. This measure simply allows a very small number of lower-income K-3rd-grade students to escape from such schools and get an education at roughly half that cost in a nonpublic school. It is in the public interest to give students in New Orleans public schools the means to access the educational opportunities offered by nonpublic schools."

George Clowes

Senior Fellow

The Heartland Institute

Chicago, IL


"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."

Andrew Campanella

Director of Communications

Alliance for School Choice

Washington, DC


"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."

Collin Hitt

Director of Education Policy

Illinois Policy Institute

Springfield, IL


"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."

Karla Dial

Managing Editor

School Reform News

The Heartland Institute

Chicago, IL


"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."

Robert Holland

Senior Fellow

The Heartland Institute

Chicago, IL

703/901-6745 or


Nothing in this Media Advisory is intended to influence the passage of legislation, and it does not necessarily represent the views of The Heartland Institute. For further information, contact Dan Miller, executive vice president, The Heartland Institute, at 312/377-4000, or