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Jindal’s Tough Education Reforms
Smart, comprehensive, innovative: Louisana’s education changes represent the best of conservative thought.

By Patrick Brennan


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Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal


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Earlier this month, after a bipartisan majority passed two new education bills in the Louisiana state house, teachers took the day off from work to protest in concert with activists, including the rather obscure Occupy Baton Rouge. In Cajun tradition, they held a raucous “funeral for education reform.” But on the contrary, Louisiana’s school reforms represent a new national birth of freedom for education. This is a huge step forward for conservative policy, especially with the establishment of unprecedented access to school choice.

As Jim Geraghty wrote in National Review last fall, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal has enjoyed a spectacular run of success at governing his state, overhauling Louisiana, once derided as America’s “banana republic,” by cutting down corruption, improving business-friendliness, and reforming the health-care system. In fact, Jindal’s efforts were so successful that the Democratic party essentially didn’t bother putting forth a challenger in 2010; Louisiana had gotten so bad that dramatically reducing spending and cracking down on ethics violations didn’t anger the body politic at all. But then, of course, there were still public schools: With sacrosanct spending levels, lifetime tenure, and no accountability measures, they are the Louisiana-like rump in every state, holding back student achievement.

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Thus, the Oxford-educated governor has now turned his attention to education reform. Unlike his other common-sense reforms, these have encountered vehement opposition — not from the populace at large, but from teachers’ unions.

Jindal’s reforms are smart, comprehensive, and innovative, representing the best of conservative thought on education. Rick Hess, director of education-policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, has high praise for the reforms, calling them “both politically savvy and good public policy,” and important both “as an individual event, and part of a trend.” That is, Jindal’s reforms represent a victory for conservative education-reform policies, and represent the growing tide of support for such ideas. The measures are broken down into two bills, and have two major components: significantly increasing school choice, and increasing accountability.

As Hess puts it, Louisiana’s new policies “establish a new standard for school choice, breaking ground for other states across the country.” Jindal has pushed for a huge expansion of voucher programs, which pay tuition for students at parochial or private schools. The state program itself is based on a successful system in Orleans Parish. Four hundred thousand students, almost half of Louisiana’s public-school population, would be eligible for a voucher to pay tuition at a private school (that’s the number of students who are eligible because they attend schools that receive C, D, or F grades from the state).

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COMMENTS   23

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bob delaney
   04/17/12 06:00

about time......let the chips fall where they may

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MLChance
   04/17/12 06:19

"...by sending students to private schools or charter schools that lack standards...."

I don't know about charter schools in LA, but here in TX, charter schools are held to the same standards for curriculum and testing as other public schools. My school adds to those standards in order to exceed the minimum required by the state and federal government. I've also taught in private schools, and those schools too had standards, and higher ones than the public school are asked to have.

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   04/17/12 06:45

Teacher Unions have been in the process of destroying public education since the early seventies. Seeing this made me decide to not accept certification when I cmpleted my BSEd in 1975. Also, teachers at state Universities were being fed the book "Teaching Is A Subversive Activity",It´s this liberal, utopianist brainwashing instead of basic education that is dumbing down the whole country.

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Perplexed
   04/17/12 07:50

The bright and shinning star in the Republican Party and among conservatives. I really admire what this guy has done in an almost impossible situation. We need more Governors like him and more leaders in this nation who can craft solutions to meet the problems we face today.

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   04/17/12 08:54

All of that sounds really good, except for increased oversight of private schools. I teach in a Christian school, and while I support school choice, I don't want to see a private school accept voucher money that comes with strings telling us what we can or cannot teach. As long as the private school is accredited by either ACSI (for Christian schools) or SACS, or preferably both, then the government should stay out of it completely.

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withaplum
   04/17/12 14:03

That's a choice the school should be free to make. But as long as taxpayer money is going in, the government has a duty and a responsiblity to monitor the school.

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Kaye
   04/17/12 17:47
MLChance
   04/17/12 20:12

No, the gov't doesn't have a responsibility to monitor private schools that accept voucher money. That money isn't the gov't's. It belongs to the family using the voucher. That family has the responsibility to monitor the school and their child's education.

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   04/19/12 12:53

He who has the gold makes the rules. Why would it not be reasonable for the government to have standards / accountability / etc for those things it funds? Now, that might be novel, but it sounds like something we *should* have to me...

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   04/17/12 21:55

Then they won't really be private or independent schools, will they? It should be the parents' money through a tax break, then the government has no say.

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CaseyFen2
   04/17/12 10:30

I teach at a school in Claiborne Parish (the 2010 Democratic gubernatorial challenger is a teacher in this parish as well). Over the past school year, I've attended two mandatory meetings which were interrupted by angry teachers/administrators who ranted about Bobby Jindal and his evil reforms. "You won't have a job next year!", "He's trying to destroy the public school system.", "He doesn't care about Louisiana, he'd just trying to set himself up to run for president in 2016.", "He's trying to steal our retirement!" and on and on and on. I was very close to walking out. On the day the legislation was being debated, several teachers from our parish went down to Baton Rouge. In fact, we ended up telling the kids to stay home because we didn't have enough substitutes to cover the missing teachers. So I, along with 4 or 5 other teachers, was paid to sit in my room all day with nothing to do.

The teachers unions are using scare tactics, like saying that the bottom 10% of teachers will be fired every year, to get all of the state's teachers in a flurry. I know teachers who are life-long Republicans and very conservative but they're against Bobby Jindal because of what the teachers unions are saying. I wish I could say that Bobby Jindal and his team have done a good job of countering their arguments but they haven't. I've looked for positive information about the reforms online but there is very litttle.

This will be my last year of teaching. I can't take all of the liberal propaganda that's shoved down our throats.

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Thomas Larsen
   04/17/12 12:25

I support the Swedish model for charter schools. (Yes, Sweden, which most Conservatives don't know is the 2nd most privatized country in the EU, after Britain.) They give a voucher to all students for school choice, but require that all schools, both public and private, cannot have any specific admissions requirements. Comparing selective admission private schools to public schools that must take everyone is misleading and ridiculous. The Finnish system, on the other hand, which is purported to have the best outcomes on international tests (which is an exaggeration when you look closely at their system), bans all private or specialized schools, so that every Finn is in the same boat. Either would provide a better chance at the equality of opportunity that we Conservatives herald than the poorly thought out system of school choice we have now.

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Victor M Negrete
   04/17/12 13:02

GET RID OFF from all techers indoctrinators unions, amen!!!!!!

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   04/17/12 13:05

I don't know that giving more power to superintendents and administrators is a very good idea. In the time that education has been doing its steady downhill run, administration is what keeps going up and getting more powerful. There's already too much administration interfering in the classroom. Putting more in doesn't seem like the world's best idea.

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cpc
   04/17/12 13:05

If this was a doubles tennis game it would be called a nice setup for your net partner to punch the volley for a winner; in a base ball game it's a great field set up for a double play; in a basket ball game it's as nice a pass a gurad can dish out for an easy layup; in a football game it will be a nifty block that allows the R.B. for an easy touch down!!!

Now every one that read this article is thinking what a lovely and sucessful governor he has been. Next thought, wait.....wait... don't tell me.....: Mitt should pick him as the running mate.

Game over!!!

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   04/18/12 09:51

Let him be tempered by his office and growing experience; this is a man who knows and exemplifies the potential offered an individual in the US as an outsider looking in- maybe our greatest asset as a country.

He's sharp as a tack, not a grandstander- and time is on his side.

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   04/17/12 18:25

Bobby Jindal is one of the finest Governor's our country has. For all the hard work he has done on the BP disaster, never resting it seemed for even a moment during that time, he has earned our respect. Also he has made Louisiana one of the most business friendly states in the nation. Now this much needed education reform, and he has only just begun. This is one intelligent, dedicated, hard working man. Mitt Romney needs to call him immediately and place him on the ticket as Vice President. Vote Romney/Jindal 2012.

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KimberlyKay
   04/18/12 00:33

The vouchers are not for everyone at a failing school. Only if you are at poverty level you will get a voucher. If your parents make $60,000 a year or more and you go to a failing school you are not worthy of a voucher. If the school is failing then why don't he save the money and turn that school into the charter school. Get rid of all the certified teachers and bring in his own people. Also why don't the teachers at the private schools have to be certified. If you want to save tax dollars then any student that is on government assisted insurance, free lunch and food stamps should have to maintain a C average with out dropping out. And for the students that are not on any assistance should have to maintain a C average also or their parents do not get to claim them for tax credit. The government would save money. The parents that are not involved in their children's education will start being involved. And the parents that are already involved in their children's education would never notice a difference because they are already doing everything right. That is how you help education and save money.

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juoiu crackou
   04/18/12 10:14

hahaha. laughable propaganda from NRO. jindal is all about jindal. any good he claims responsibility for that comes louisiana's way is an accident. Axes anyone and everyone who doesn't get in lockstep with his tyranny, even tjhose of his own brownshirt party. he'll be recalled soon but not before losing emabarrassing battles in education "reform" and gutting civil service retirement. You obviously haven't talked to anyone in Louisiana who isn't Exxon or a one-percenter. The rest of us want him gone. two words fer youse guys: scott walker.

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CaseyFen2
   04/18/12 13:03

Would you rather have Edwin Edwards or Huey Long back? Jindal has cleaned up Louisiana and made it a respectable member of the US. And if everyone hates Jindal so much, how did he win EVERY PARISH in the state and 65% of the popular vote? Apparently, 65% of Louisiana is either an employee of Exxon or a "one-percenter" (if that's the case, we must have every "one-percenter" in the nation). Scott Walker, huh? I've got three words for you: This ain't Wisconsin.

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