With the looming inauguration of Governor-elect Jeff Landry, Louisiana may soon become the 11th state in the nation to offer universal school choice – that is, if Texas doesn’t get there first.
Earlier this year, the Louisiana House of Representatives passed HB 98, authorizing the creation of education savings accounts – matching public per-pupil funding levels – that parents can use to send their children to the schools of their choice. The Senate failed to take up the legislation before the session’s adjournment.
With the arrival of Landry in the Governor’s Office, Louisiana will have several reasons to renew their efforts. For one, they are good politics. Sixty-eight percent of adults and 75 percent of parents with school-aged children in Louisiana support education savings accounts. For another, Landy himself is a strong supporter of school choice, affirming during his 2010 congressional campaign that: “We need to adopt policies that empower parents to make decisions about their own child’s education – including home school, charter schools, church-based schools and other alternatives.”
Protect The 1st wholeheartedly agrees. The school choice movement is vital to the future of American society, improving educational outcomes while offering parents the ability to exercise their First Amendment rights by extending their standards and values across generations. Research proves that choice brings powerful improvements in academic results and in children’s lives. The First Amendment’s guarantee of the free exercise of religion, meanwhile, must include room for parents to choose schools that reflect their beliefs, while adhering to state standards in learning.
Despite claims to the contrary, choice doesn’t hurt or defund public schools. Rather, permitting enrollment competition often improves academic performance at public schools. Furthermore, public school funding is not particularly responsive to enrollment numbers. Local funding often comes from local property taxes, which redound to the benefit of public schools no matter what, in addition to federal Title 1 funding.
Ten states have passed universal school choice since 2021, spreading across the nation like a prairie fire. Texas legislators are currently in the middle of a special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott to line up the Lone Star State – the nation’s second-most populous state – for school choice. The Senate has already passed a bill creating education savings accounts – now it’s up to the Texas House.
School choice operates on the principle that competition breeds innovation. Allowing for choice not only empowers parents – it challenges public schools to do better. And more and more states are taking up that challenge.
Whether Texas or Louisiana becomes the next state to offer universal school choice, it’s parents and students who will win.