Jindal Calls for More Virtual Programs Across Louisiana

The big drive behind Governor Bobby Jindal's education reform in 2012 is the creation of more choice for Louisiana students and their parents.

The "choices" he's after mostly come in the form of charter schools and vouchers. But now the Republican has called for more students to enroll in the Louisiana Virtual School, a statewide program that offers Internet courses to home-schooled children.

Louisiana Virtual School offers a full range of high-school classes and has grown rapidly since its creation in the 2000-01 school year, writes Matthew Albright at the Daily Comet.

"When it started, the state offered 12 courses to 130 students in nine school districts; last year, 5,234 students from 68 school districts took more than 68 courses."

Students in Terrebonne and Lafourche participate in the virtual school.

Nicholas Gonzalez previously went to E.D. White Catholic School, he now takes the virtual classes.

"I definitely prefer the E-school. It's not as strenuous.

"They work at your own pace. At E.D. White I felt a step behind, but E-school lets me move as slow or as fast as I need to."

Students spend three mornings a week at a central-learning facility. On the other days they work from home, taking classes on the computer.

 "I used to come home and be exhausted, but I had to get right onto studying and doing homework," Gonzalez said.

"Here, I'm able to have a steady job and be around my family."

Gonzalez's mother, Gina, said:

"I wanted for us to be able to have time to spend together as a family," she said.

And now, under new proposals, a Type I charter school like Lafourche's new Bayou Community Academy could operate under the regular school system but maintain separate management and stay free from many restrictions and rules that govern traditional public schools.

The efforts to drive this resolution has not gone unnoticed by Governor Jindal, who praised Student Accountability Supervisor Julie Bourgeois and the efforts of those wanting to spread the availability of online learning across the state.

 "They have been looking at new ways to incorporate virtual education into their portfolio of schools to meet the needs of the large home-school population in that parish," said Jindal.

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