Save for a few minor details, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s vast education reform agenda will remain intact as it heads toward final approval Tuesday by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

According to an Associated Press report, BESE members met Monday in committee meetings and gave preliminary approval on Jindal’s reform measures, including the basics on the state’s new voucher program that uses public dollars for private school tuition.

BESE members, a majority of whom were endorsed by Jindal and had unusually strong financial backing by his most affluent supporters during last year’s BESE election, had little to add to the expansive education laws that were spelled out during the legislative session. The Times-Picayune reports that Monday’s tweaks to the package were merely “technical details, mandating for instance that private schools designate someone to coordinate the standardized testing required of voucher students and provide the Department of Education with their contact information.”

Notably absent from the voucher guidelines approved in committee are accountability standards for the 124 private schools accepting voucher money, a safeguard put in place by lawmakers when the reform package sailed through the Legislature. State Superintendent of Education John White told the state’s top education board that the accountability rules should be complete prior to the Aug. 1 deadline, but here’s the kicker: The private school accountability standards crafted by the state Department of Education will not go before BESE for final approval. Say what?

Jindal has been largely opposed to implementing accountability regulations for private schools accepting voucher kids, despite the rigorous accountability system in place for public schools. The governor and his media handlers have relied on one word to respond to questions about equitable accountability for voucher schools: Choice. As in, parents should be able to “choose” to funnel public money to institutions like New Living Word School in Ruston, which has no classrooms, computers or teachers for the 315 voucher students it plans to accept, or Eternity Christian Academy in Westlake, where students don’t learn evolution because “it might confuse them.”

Read more here and here.

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