Friday, June 29, 2012

Louisiana Voucher Application Period Ends, Brighter Future for Thousands of Students Begins

It’s not only the end of the workweek,  but also the end of application period for the recently-expanded Louisiana voucher program, Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence (SSEE). With only a month to spread the word (the application period ran from May 22-June 29), our Louisiana friends wasted no time implementing the statewide program. 

Our friends from the south at the Louisiana Federation for Children and the Black Alliance for Educational Options teamed up with the state’s Department of Education to quickly (and effectively) communicate about the expanded program, its requirements, and the application period from Shreveport all the way down to New Orleans. For the geographically-challenged, that’s north Louisiana to south Louisiana.

The aggressive outreach campaign included an
informational website, direct mail, radio ads, billboards, outbound phone calls, an educational roadshow, and much more. You can rest assured that eligible parents received the word that this program—an indispensable educational opportunity—was available to them.

Take a look at the video below, courtesy of our friends at Louisiana BAEO. At eight minutes long, it tells the story of the battle the Louisiana reformers endured and the momentous success that followed. 

Originally enacted in 2008 for students in Orleans Parish, the SSEE program has consistently boasted high parental satisfaction rates, to the tune of 90 percent.  And during the 2011-12 school year, it served more than 1,800 students in New Orleans.

In its first year of expansion, more than 100 schools have signed up to participate offering nearly 5,000 seats from grades K-12—an impressive feat with such a short turnaround. (Remember, the program was just signed into law by Gov. Jindal on April 18.) And just last week, the state Department of Education reported that more than 6,000 applications have already been submitted. This number was expected to continue to rise as additional applications were input into the system and were still being submitted by eligible parents. 

Here’s what State Superintendent John White had to say about the application period’s results thus far:

"Response from parents across the state has been very positive. It has been overwhelming to witness so many parents actively seeking quality education options for their children. They are engaged in their children’s education and clearly want the best opportunities available to them.”

Although these successes prove promising for school choice across the nation, we can’t turn our backs to the never-ending mêlée being caused by the defenders of the status quo. Louisiana’s state teachers unions have already joined forces to file lawsuits against the recently passed education reforms—including the voucher program—which threatens the educational future of thousands of children in the Pelican State. But, our Louisiana friends are resilient and prepared to fight for the reforms they worked so determinedly to pass.  

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, HMS

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