EDUCATION: Gov. Bobby Jindal won passage of an overhaul of public education in Louisiana. The changes will make it harder for teachers to gain tenure while establishing a statewide voucher program for private school tuition and multiplying the ways to create charter schools. The bills also lessen local school board authority in hiring and firing decisions while expanding the use of online schools.
However, parents and teachers may notice few immediate changes to the education system in the upcoming school year. Vouchers will be available to 5,000 students to attend private schools with public tax dollars in the fall. While new charter schools will take at least a year to get through the application and approval process. The earliest a teacher can lose tenure under the new evaluation system is spring 2014.
Legislators also approved a measure to create a new tax break program that will give rebates for donations to voucher programs that provide tuition for students to attend private schools. A $300 million annual cap on the rebates, sought by senators, was stripped from the final version, despite criticism the tax break could deepen the state’s financial problems.
On the other hand, Jindal vetoed a bill which would have established a tax rebate for those who give to low-performing public schools. The percentage of the donation that could be claimed as a rebate would have depended on the school’s letter grade, with donations to failing schools eligible for a rebate of 75 percent. The program would have been capped at $10 million