Union Blasts Jindal’s Choice Proposal for Louisiana Students

A teachers union official has spoken out against the expansion of the Louisiana’s new voucher program, a key element to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s sweeping proposal to overhaul the state’s education system.

Governor Bobby Jindal has fired back against criticisms of his plan to overhaul the state education system, saying that he was offended by a comment a union official made about school vouchers, writes Jeff Adelson at the Times-Picayune.

Jindal hit out at comments made by Louisiana Association of Educators Executive Director Michael Walker-Jones, who suggested that parents would not be given adequate resources to make informed decisions about their children’s schools.

“To me that is incredibly offensive and exactly what is wrong with the top-down approach,” Jindal said.

Referring to Jindal’s plan, which would provide vouchers to students in low-performing, low-income schools, Walker-Jones doubted whether parents had the information, time and training to bear the burden of educational decisions

Walker-Jones said:

“If I’m a parent in poverty I have no clue because I’m trying to struggle and live day to day.”

Parents in the state are concerned about the large class sizes and lack of special education instruction in their public schools. Jindal believes the voucher program will answer the parents’ calls for more options for their children’s education.

Linda Covington, a parent of three, said:

“Nobody knows my child better than me.

“I can’t imagine not having a choice.”

The voucher program is currently limited to “Opportunity Scholarships” in New Orleans. The program is a key element of Jindal’s broad proposal to overhaul Louisiana’s education system and would make any low-income family whose child was in a school rated C, D or F eligible for public money to send the student to a private school, writes Adelson.

Teacher tenure and the use of seniority in making personnel decisions are also at risk of being cut under the proposals.

However, Steve Monaghan, president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, has attacked these aspects of the proposal and has accused Jindal of using “inflammatory rhetoric” to demonize teachers.