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Louisiana Public School System Essay

2949 words - 12 pages

The state of the Louisiana public school system is among the worst in the union. Among the 50 states Louisiana consistently ranks in the bottom in public education. The National Center for Education Statistics ranked Louisiana as the 49th state in the country for public education (Todd). Louisiana also ranks 48 out of 50 in science education, and 47 out of 50 in mathematics in the country according to the American Institute of Physics (Todd). In addition, to low outcomes in these measures Louisiana has a high school graduation rate of 67 percent in 2010(Todd). This considerable proportion of students failing to graduate high school has a negative impact on economic growth, when one considers that lower educational attainment is correlated with, lower earnings and unemployment (United States. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). With these low levels education attainment and economic opportunity, poverty rises and income falls. This is shown by the fact that Louisiana poverty rate is 18.4 percent, which is 4.1 percentage points higher than the national average (Louisiana Quick Facts from the US Census Bureau). Furthermore, the per capita income in Louisiana is over 4,000 dollars below the national average (The US Census Bureau). All these statistics show how Louisiana is a state that is suffering from a public education system that fails to prepare its children to enter the work force and become productive citizens.
In “Trauma and Performance: Lessons from Latin America”, Diana Taylor tells her readership how trauma is not just affecting the individual, but also affects entire communities (1675). In the case of Louisiana, the trauma of poverty has affected every facet of life from health to wealth and with over 26 percent of children living in poverty the future does not look that much brighter (Louisiana Quick Facts from the US Census Bureau). However, Taylor offers hope because trauma “mobilizes demands for social justice” (1675). This demand for social justice for children and families in dire situations has manifested itself in a new Louisiana voucher program. I will now examine how the new voucher program provides children from low income backgrounds and underperforming schools a way to improve their lot in life. Vouchers are not a panacea to the problems the Louisiana system faces, but they offer a solution to students that attend underperforming schools and spur improved performance among schools that face competition from vouchers.
According to education historian Diana Ravitch, a voucher is “payment by the state to underwrite all or part of a student’s education expenses to a nonpublic school whether independent or religious chosen by the student or the student's parents” (Ravitch 225). Government sponsored private schools have actually been a part of policy debates early in our nation’s history. In 1791, Thomas Paine was one of the first public figures to advocate using government funds to educate children by financing private schools...

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