Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s ambitious school voucher programs just got a big boost from one of the biggest names in education reform. Students First, a school reform organization led by former DC schools commissioner Michelle Rhee, released a national state-by-state report card on Tuesday which ranked Louisiana first in the nation with a B- grade, just ahead of Florida, Indiana, and Rhode Island. (As a whole, the report takes a dim view of American education policy: The national average is a D+.) The report card grades states on their performance in three categories: elevating the teaching profession, empowering parents, and spending money wisely. Louisiana ranked above average in all three and was particularly singled out for its teacher evaluation and school choice policies:
Louisiana has established itself as a national leader for creating innovative and important student-centered education policies. The state has adopted meaningful educator evaluations, and it requires districts to base all personnel decisions, as well as compensation structures, on classroom effectiveness. Louisiana is also a leader for empowering parents with choice and information. The state provides parents with useful and easy-to-understand information regarding school performance in the form of an A-F school report card. In addition to their traditional neighborhood schools, parents can choose from a robust network of public charter schools or take advantage of an opportunity scholarship program that prioritizes low-income students stuck in low-performing schools.
Louisiana’s education reforms have been among the most ambitious in the country for years now. It’s still too early to fully measure the effectiveness of those reforms, but reports like this are a big vote of confidence at a time when state is defending its voucher program against the Department of Justice.