Louisiana Among States with Victories in Education Reform

The Wall Street Journal published an editorial celebrating 2011 as a banner year for education reform and school choice. The article mentions Louisiana as one of several states with notable legislative victories for reform, which bodes well for the state’s continued progress in this area.

Over the span of this year, thirteen states, including Louisiana, have passed school choice legislation, while 28 states have pending legislation.

The editorial highlights Louisiana’s SB 13, which “enhanced its state income tax break for private school tuition.” SB 13, sponsored by Rob Marionneaux (D-Grosse Tete), extends the income tax deduction for private school tuition to a maximum of $5,000 per child. The fact that a Democratic state Senator authored such a bill is a triumph, marking broader bipartisan agreement on the importance of education reform.

Among other states commended by the WSJ is Indiana, which greatly diversified its school choice options by removing a cap on charter schools, allowing universities to sponsor charters, and creating a voucher program giving half the state’s students access to the private or public school of their choice.

Another tremendous victory highlighted is the reauthorization of Washington, D.C.’s popular voucher program that had been defunded by Congress before the November 2010 elections.

The editorial expounds upon the political implications of these reforms, which are accurately tied to Republican success in last November’s elections. In contrast, most Democratic members of Congress stubbornly cling to the wishes of teachers unions, who often fail to represent the needs of students.

While the WSJ applauds the crucial measures enacted by these states, it recognizes that there is still much more to be done. In particular, it specifies teacher tenure laws and insufficient standards as impediments to further education gains. Success will require more bipartisan consensus such as that which is becoming apparent in Louisiana. Nonetheless, this year is clearly the “best for reformers in a very long time.”

Jamison Beuerman is a contributing writer and policy analyst at the Pelican Institute for Public Policy. He can be reached via email at jbeuerman@pelicanpolicy.org or followed on twitter @jbeuerman.