Lawmakers debate school voucher amendments

Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 4:33pm

BATON ROUGE,LA (FOX44) — As originally written, House Bill 976 would give students at schools rated c, d, or f an equal opportunity to transfer to the private school of their choice. Republican Jim Fannin presented an amendment today on the House floor that would give students at d or f schools priority.

"According to the standards that are in place whether they are a,b,c,d, or f schools that criteria says that that school is worse than a c school and I personally think that parents in those schools ought to have the first choice," says Fannin.

Right now 44 percent of schools are rated d or f. That's about 600 schools statewide. Some House Democrats say students at c schools aren't failing and shouldn't be lumped in with that 44 percent.

"265,279 children in d or f school only. If there is any opportunity for an individual parent to take their children from c schools it would inadvertently diminish the ability for any parent from a d or an f school to leave those schools," says Representative Pat Smith of Baton Rouge.

Representative Stephen Carter of Baton Rouge wrote House Bill 976. He says the amendment along with the bill itself is needed to move Louisiana education forward.

"It's time for us to make a difference. It's time for us to step to the plate and to do the things that are right for the children of our state," says Representative Stephen Carter of Baton Rouge.

Opponents believe, if the bill is passed, it will leave more questions than answers.

"If one percent of kids come out of f schools and they take resources with them and you leave 99 percent behind. What's going to happen to the 99 percent in that failing school?" says Representative Sam Jones of Franklin.

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