Voucher Supporters Achieve Political Success in Louisiana



By Education Next 01/27/2010

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Hoover Institution/Education Next News Release

For Immediate Release: January 27, 2010
Contact: Michael Henderson:  henders3@fas.harvard.edu, 337-852-0860

STANFORD—In a decade in which many school voucher programs have been limited or rolled back in Washington, DC, Utah, Arizona, and Florida, the Louisiana legislature in 2008 passed a new voucher program for New Orleans. In 2009-10, the second year of the voucher program, 1,324 New Orleans students attended 31 private schools using vouchers with a maximum value of over $7,000.

In “In the Wake of the Storm,” which is now available at www.EducationNext.org and will appear in the Spring 2010 issue of Education Next, Harvard researcher Michael Henderson tells the story behind the passage of voucher legislation in Louisiana and identifies the election of Bobby Jindal, a popular governor committed to school choice, as the most critical factor. “Passage of a voucher bill required political change. That change came in the fall of 2007, when Bobby Jindal, a Republican and strong supporter of vouchers, was elected governor,” Henderson writes.

Henderson concludes that, while the program came close on the heels of Hurricane Katrina, the storm only set the stage for the possibility of reform.

Jindal’s efforts were helped by a term limit law that changed the face of the state legislature in 2007 and by the support of a number of African American legislators from New Orleans. The governor also lined up votes from white legislators from the state’s rural areas.

As Henderson explains, “Winning over those votes depended on a popular governor committed to expanding choice, his willingness to put his political capital to work for the proposal’s success, and adept navigation of the legislative process.”

Michael Henderson, a native of Louisiana, is research fellow at Harvard University’s Program for Education Policy and Governance and graduate student in the Department of Education.

Education Next is a scholarly journal published by the Hoover Institution that is committed to looking at hard facts about school reform. Other sponsoring institutions are the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
Caleb Offley (585) 319-4541
Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-6010
www.hoover.org




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